Warning after string of thefts from cemetery

POLICE are calling on cemetery visitors to take simple steps to make sure they don’t fall victim to callous thieves.

Officers are taking action after a string of thefts from Stranton Cemetery, in Hartlepool.

Police say people are quite rightly outraged by the insensitivity of the crooks and are now urging visitors to make it harder for the criminals to strike by locking car doors and removing valuables from display.

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Inspector Lee Rukin, of Hartlepool Police, said: “This incident has caused distress to the victim and naturally will cause outrage amongst the public that someone could stoop so low to target someone attending the cemetery.

“It is important that those attending the cemetery ensure their vehicles are secured with any valuables removed from display.

“These small steps significantly reduce the risk of becoming a victim and causing unnecessary stress”.

A woman was left “shocked and distressed” when she visited a grave at the cemetery, in Brierton Lane, Hartlepool, between 2pm and 2.40pm on Tuesday, February 28, and returned to her blue Nissan Almera to find her bag had been stolen.

The incident came after a similar attack at the cemetery on Saturday, February 25, saw a woman have her bag snatched from her black Renault Laguna car.

Susan Connor, chairman of the Friends of Stranton Cemetery group, said they are trying to encourage as many people as possible to use the cemetery as a green space, which would “make it difficult for thieves to be so opportunistic”.

Hartlepool Borough Council chiefs said action has been taken recently to improve security with CCTV cameras installed and patrols by police community support officers and council staff being increased.

Anyone with any information about thefts from the cemetery are asked to contact Hartlepool Police on the non-emergency contact number 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

• To help support the cemetery, email friendsofstrantoncemetery@hotmail.co.uk