Anger over thefts and vandalism on graves

Jill Arkley-Jevons, pictured by her sons graves which have suffered vandalism and been targeted by thieves at Mexborough Cemetery. Picture: Marie Caley NDFP 14-05-15 Cemetery MC 2
Jill Arkley-Jevons, pictured by her sons graves which have suffered vandalism and been targeted by thieves at Mexborough Cemetery. Picture: Marie Caley NDFP 14-05-15 Cemetery MC 2
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Angry bereaved families are demanding action after a spate of vandalism and thefts at a Doncaster graveyard.

A mum has been left devastated after the latest incident at Mexborough cemetery when the grave of her two sons was targeted by thieves who took items she had left there.

Now talks are due to take place with police and council officials over security – with residents calling for CCTV cameras to be brought in.

Heartbroken mum Jill Arkley described the raid on her sons’ grave as ‘horrendous’.

Jill’s oldest son David died aged 35 nine years ago and her younger son Gary died two years ago aged 36. Both suffered liver disease.

She arrived at the Cemetery Road site to find items she had bought to put on the shared grave plot had been stolen.

She said: “I can’t imagine people going out and stealing from graves. How can people do this?

“It was just a terrible shock to arrive and find items had gone.

“The only thing I can do for my boys now is to buy bits and pieces for their graves, and that has been something I have done regularly. It means a lot to me.

“It is horrendous to go through this. I just don’t think whoever has done this has much of a conscience.”

Concerned resident Paula Walford, who has organised a meeting to deal with the issue, said Jill was not the only person to have been affected by the thefts.

One mother told her plants next to her daughter’s grave had been ripped out.

She said: “Residents have obviously got concerns and they have had enough. There are some scumbags out there, to have been doing this sort of thing.

“There have been other people coming forward.

“Police use to have patrols there, but they seem to have gone, and theft and damage is still going on. This is not just something that is happened to one or two people, it is happening a lot.

“I want to see closed circuit television brought in there.”

Peter Dale, the council’s director of regeneration and environment, said: “These are despicable and shameful acts of vandalism and we urge anyone with information about these incidents, or similar ones in any other cemeteries, to report it to South Yorkshire Police so the culprits can be brought to justice.

“We will be attending this meeting organised by the local community to listen to their concerns and will help wherever we can.”

A South Yorkshire Police spokeswoman confirmed residents’ concerns were being investigated.

She said three children, aged between nine and 13, had been spoken to about incidents at the cemetery earlier this year and added the force was committed to patrolling the area.

A meeting is being held on Wednesday May 20 at Highwoods Base, Highwoods Road, Mexborough, to discuss the issue with police and council officials. It starts at 7.15 and people affected by the problem are invited to attend.