Friday, January 27, 2012

Callous thieves target Somerset church's garden of remembrance

Callous thieves have left mourners heartbroken after targeting a church garden of remembrance in Westfield.
Shocked churchwarden Pat Belben contacted police after noticing the large "Garden of Rest" sign outside St Peter's Church had been stolen.
The metal sign is about 2ft by 1ft in black with gold lettering.
He said it is of huge importance to people who come to the garden to remember loved ones because it creates a sense of familiarity and added that the incident has left families worried that graves may be targeted next.
Mr Belben added: "I can't believe someone would steal a sign for a remembrance garden. It is very important to people who come here because it is part of the garden.
"The sign may make whoever stole it a few quid, but the theft could cost us a couple of hundred pounds to replace."
Fellow warden Lynne Waton shared Mr Belben's anger and dismay.
She said: "It is terrible that someone would take the sign simply for their own gain. This should be a sacred place where people can come for a moment to pay their respects, pray or to remember loved ones."
Mr Belben appealed to anyone with information about the sign to call the police.
Sergeant Geoff Cannon, from Radstock police, said officers at the station were upset and angry that someone could steal the sign.
He said: "Rather than choose a piece of utility equipment to steal, thieves that clearly have no conscience have taken something on this occasion that is precious to the local community and that will be sorely missed."
Sgt Cannon said he thinks someone will know where the sign has gone and appealed to anyone with information to call the police.
He added: "This is not something that can be disposed of easily. Someone knows where it is."
Sgt Cannon also urged people to remain vigilant, especially those who live near churches.
In recent years there has been a dramatic increase in metal thefts across the country which has seen thieves targeting war memorials, railway lines, street signs and manhole covers.
In September the theft of seven manhole covers from around the Timsbury area cost Bath and North East Somerset Council thousands of pounds.
Anyone with information re the theft of the sign should call Avon and Somerset police on the non-emergency number 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111

(Reproduced from This Is Somerset, 27th Jan)

Gardien Comment: Metal theft continues to be a major problem although the government are trying to introduce measures to curb it. Thought should be given to the protection of all outdoor metal items - see the advice at

Pupils at Holy Family Pre-School heartbroken by garden materials theft

CHILDREN have been left upset after thieves stole material they were going to use to build their garden.
Youngsters from Holy Family Pre-School in Millbrook, Southampton, were excited about building raised flower beds and vegetable patches.
Parents have been fundraising and Totton Timber donated 12 planks of pine for the project which was to start next week.
Pre-school manger Sharon Kefby said: “It is so sad and disheartening. They are stealing from the children, they have taken away an experience from them. We are a charity and we can’t afford to replace these things.”
This is the second time they have been targeted. In September donated bamboo fencing was stolen.
Anyone with information about the incident should call Hampshire police on 101

(Reproduced from Southern Daily Echo, 27th Jan 2012)

Gardien Comment: Property Marking the wood with SelectaDNA would at least enable identification back to the school. See

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Criminals targeting bikes in Lincoln, police say

Criminals targeting bikes in Lincoln, police say
Police are urging Lincoln residents to consider improving their shed security after an increase in break-ins to steal bikes.
The warning comes after another incident in the city, when thieves broke into a shed in a garden in Dixon Street overnight on January 23 and stole a mountain bike.
Officers say there is an ongoing crime series across the city and criminals seem to be particularly focussing on the theft of bikes.
Residents are advised to consider keeping valuable bikes inside their homes, or to at least increase their shed security with better locks and shed alarms.
Police are appealing for anyone to report any suspicious activity in their roads as soon as possible.
Call Lincolnshire Police with information on 101, or call independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 0800 555 111 end_of_the_skype_highlighting.

(Reproduced from The Lincolnite, 20th January)

Gardien Comment: See the article on Bike Security at

Friday, January 20, 2012

Sick grave robbers steal grieving family's Christmas decorations

A DUNFERMLINE family who put up a special Christmas tree in memory of their youngest son were left heartbroken after the decorations were stolen by callous thieves.
Val and Steve Murphy, of Bruce Gardens, were sickened by the "disgusting" theft of the trinkets, which were taken from son Ian's graveside in Douglas Bank Cemetery, Pattiesmuir.

Christmas lights, tinsel and one of five wreaths, which had also been decorated with special items, were also stolen.

Ian, a Fife Council sports coach, was just 22 when he lost his brave fight against cancer in August 2008 and his family have put up a tree over the Christmas period for the last four years as a memorial and tribute.

Each tree is decorated by family and friends and then gifted to a family member for replanting and decorating annually in their own garden.

The Murphys had placed the latest tree around 11th December and discovered the theft on 14th January, barely a week after their last visit.

Mum Val (52) said, "I was just shocked at the time but when I got home it was quite emotional.

"This is our way to involve Ian and a special way of keeping his spirit of Christmas alive.

"The tree was left in good condition as were the four other wreaths, leaving us to believe that the items had been very carefully and deliberately removed.

"There were lots of things that were still there and had not been touched.

"Had this happened before Christmas I would have thought they had been taken for their own tree but why now?"

Val also questioned why anyone would take the decorations, as they were specific to Ian.

She said, "There was a crystal robin, a Liverpool ball, items that said 'To a special son' or brother and there were messages attached to them.

"It's horrible - you know there's a risk attached to putting things out but this doesn't make it right.

"This has been a very upsetting experience and it beggars belief as to why some selfish, despicable human being would do this to us."

She said Ian had been the family's "Mr Christmas", adding, "He was the life and soul and would do Santa - he'd take his Nana round and deliver the presents to all the families.

"If someone could find it in their heart to return the decorations it would be wonderful."

Fife Council bereavement services manager Liz Murphy said all its cemeteries were public access but said such thefts were not an issue they had faced in recent years.

She added, "My advice is for people to be very careful with what personal and sentimental items they put out at gravesides.

"It's terrible that someone would do something like that. It's a rural site as well and you don't really expect that to happen."

(Reproduced from the Dunfermline Press, 20th Jan)

Gardien Comment: It should not be necessary to protect items left by graves, but sadly literally nothing is now sacred. If anything is of real value, the use of something like SelectaDNA would at least identify the item back to the owner if it were subsequently found. See

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Warning after metal theft

A WARNING had been issued after a metal theft in Hempsted.
Officers in Hempsted are warning residents to be on the lookout for metal thefts after a suspicious incident earlier this week.
Unknown offenders removed a set of ladders from a garden on Hempsted Lane at around 4.30pm on Tuesday, January 10. They then climbed over a fence with the ladders into another garden because, it is believed, they were planning to return to steal lead from a roof.
PC Mark Evans, who is sending letters to the community to warn them, said: "As you will be aware, the nights are getting lighter, so this will be an opportunity for thieves to use this to their advantage and steal as much as possible.
"Please secure anything that could be used to gain entry into houses or assist with the theft of lead - by keeping ladders locked up and moving items such as wheelie bins/steps away from easy access points.
"Should you see anyone acting suspiciously hanging about properties; be it on foot or in a vehicle after dark, or someone looking into gardens please gather as much information as possible - namely descriptions and vehicle registrations and then report this using the new Gloucestershire Police
non-emergency number 101.
"However, if there is a risk to yourself, your property from anyone, or you think that your safety or others is endangered, please ring 999 and do not approach the person."
For details visit

(Reproduced from This is Gloucestershire,  13th Jan 2012)

Gardien Comment: The metal theft epidemic continues and everyone should take precautions where possible. Make use of the free advice at  

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Garden gnomes stolen by thieves

TWO gnomes were stolen from a garden in South Tyneside.
The ornaments were among several items taken when thieves broke into the back garden of a home in Epinay Walk in Jarrow.
A stone Shihtzu dog, a metal bird bath and a toadstool were also taken in the raid, between 3pm on Friday and 9.30am on Saturday.
Anyone with information about the theft, or the whereabouts of the stolen items, is asked to contact police on 101 ext 69191 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 .
Crime prevention officers said residents should shut off their gardens to thieves by using locks, bolts or a padlock and chain on all back and side gates.
They also said prickly plants should be used to deter raiders, and photographs should be taken of garden furniture and items security marked where possible.

(Reproduced from The Shields Gazette, 11th Jan)

Gardien Comment:  All the advice and products you need are at

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Christmas theft upset

An Exmouth pensioner had garden furniture stolen while she was in hospital, the police have said.

‘Stealing from the vulnerable is about as low as anyone can get’ – that is the message from the daughter of a hospitalised elderly woman who was targeted by thieves shortly before Christmas.
Exmouth police said the Brixington pensioner’s cast iron garden furniture was stolen from her sheltered accommodation in Churchill Roa, while the elderly woman was in hospital, between December 14 and 21.

The victim’s daughter this week hit out at the thieves, writing an open letter to the culprits who targeted her mother.
The letter said: “Here’s hoping you had a lovely Christmas and your New Year is equally as comfortable while you sit on my poorly old mum’s beautiful, six-month-old cast iron garden furniture, which you recently acquired from the private back garden of her warden-controlled council bungalow.
“She was blissfully unaware and for this fact we are truly grateful, as goodness knows what would have happened had she confronted you!
“I hope that you are able to live with your conscience as most like-minded people would agree that stealing from the vulnerable is about as low as one can get.”
Police are keen to trace the grey cast iron table, with ‘pretty’ mosaic tiled top, and two chairs.
If you can help, contact PCSO Ball on 101, quoting crime reference number KE/11/3310.

(Reproduced from the Exmouth Journal, 4th Jan 2012)  
Gardien Comment: Metal items left outside are highly vulnerable at the moment so do whatever you can to protect them. See the advice at