More misery for families

How could they? Gladys Harding with a treasured picture of her hubby Jack
How could they? Gladys Harding with a treasured picture of her hubby Jack

ACTION is being taken to catch the heartless thieves who are targeting graves at Rastrick Cemetery.

Police and Calderdale Council are increasing their patrols in the area in an effort to catch the callous thieves who have been adding to the misery of grieving families.

Flowers and plants are being taken from the graves of loved ones and in the latest incident two lanterns were stolen from the grave of Jack Harding.

His widow, Gladys, and daughter, Julie, had discovered the lanterns were gone when they went to visit the grave. Julie said they had put them there because they didn’t want him to be in the dark. “I had to stay with mum for a few days afterwards because she was so upset,” she said.

On a later visit to the grave, the family found that raiders had struck again, this time taking another solar-powered light.

But the thefts will not stop the Harding family from decorating Jack’s grave. “We are going to get more lights and cement them in to make sure they can’t be moved,” said Julie.

The incident is the latest in a catalogue of vandalism and theft at the cemetery in Carr Green Lane. Families have spoken of their grief at finding flowers and ornaments stolen or damaged.

Only in March a Rastrick woman was devastated by the lack of respect shown to the deceased and the heartlessness of the culprits who had dug up plants from around the grave.

She said at the time that she felt her husband’s grave had been violated. “I felt physically sick when I saw what had happened. Visiting the graveyard should bring me some comfort - but now every time I go there I’m afraid of what I’m going to see,” she said.

And PC Simon Dobson, of the Lower Valley Neighbourhood Policing Team, described the action as “just mindless decimation” which caused a great deal of distress for families.

Last year a son spoke of his anger and distress after flowers and ornaments were stolen from his mother’s grave and the year before a Christmas spray with candles, along with a vase of flowers, were taken from another.

Paul Stubbs, funeral services manager for Calderdale Council, said: “This is a really heartless thing to do and we have spoken to the police and community wardens to keep a special eye out to try to catch anyone who is doing this.”

Inspector Mohammed Nawaz, who heads the Lower Valley team, said him and his staff were aware of the thefts which were very distressing for the victims.

“We will continue to give the cemetery as much attention as possible,” he said.

He urged anyone who had any information about the thefts to contact police on 0845 6060606 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.