Outraged Hartlepool cemetery visitor offers £500 reward to catch bench vandals
An outraged cemetery visitor is offering a £500 reward to help catch and punish vandals who smashed up a bench made by the community.
Rod Jones has put up the money after being dismayed by the damage caused to the circular seating area in Hartlepool’s North Cemetery.
It was smashed into several pieces overnight between Friday and Saturday (September 3-4).
Mr Jones, 73, is one of many people who live in the area and regularly visit the cemetery off Jesmond Road and Raby Road.
He said: “I think it’s scandalous what has happened, unbelievable.
"It’s a nice quiet tranquil place. I use the cemetery most days to sit and chat to the dog walkers, and now it's not the same.
“The conversation is all about these people who did it. It's a real low blow.”
Mr Jones, who is disabled and use a wheelchair, is offering the reward to anyone who provides the police with information that leads to the person responsible being arrested and prosecuted.
"Someone knows who did this,” he said.
He has also offered to help get seating repaired. He added a friend has also offered to give £500 towards the cost of fixing them.
The bench was made by local craftsmen, school pupils and the Friends of North Cemetery community group.
Gary Allen, of the friends group, earlier described the damage as a sustained attack that had ruined a lovely area saying “it’s just absolutely gut-wrenching”.
The cemetery is now closed to burials except for the reopening of existing family plots.
It is mainly used by dog walkers and people passing through.
Anyone with information about the vandalism can report it to Cleveland Police.
A spokesperson said: "Police were contacted at 5.20am on Saturday morning, with a report of vandalism to a bench which was in the middle of North Cemetery.
"The bench had last been seen in place and intact at 8.30pm the previous night but it was found ripped up from the ground and smashed.
“If anyone has information on who may be responsible for the damage, please contact Cleveland Police via the 101 number quoting Ref 149221.”