Families have been left heartbroken after graves were raided and trampled over in a wrecking spree at Sheffield’s biggest cemetery.
The parents of Tanya Donaldson, who died aged 24, were horrified to discover ornaments had been stolen from her grave at City Road Cemetery.
Tanya - affectionately known as the ‘Peter Pan’ girl because of a rare condition which meant she had the mind of a toddler and body of a six-year-old and could never grow up - died three years ago.
Her parents Carol and David, both 63, who brought their family up in Woodseats before moving to Doncaster before Tanya died, said the theft had sickened them.
Carol said: “Since losing Tanya we have been through hell so we visit her grave five days a week to be close to her and to feel at peace, so to turn up and find everything had been stolen has devastated us.”
Red roses were among the items stolen, along with ornaments of angels, a heart with Tanya’s name on, an angel with the word ‘daughter’ and a teddy bear.
The yobs also trampled across Tanya’s grave - covering it with muddy footprints.
“For somebody to be as heartless as to trample all over her grave, leaving muddy footprints where they had been, makes me feel sick,” she added.
“They need to know how much heartache and upset they are causing a lot of people. To rob from a grave is unbelievable.”
Another relative left a note on their loved one’s grave saying: “Whoever stole stuff off this grave - I hope it comes back and haunts you.”
And the grave of Kelly Slack’s 70-year-old father James Akers, who died 17 months ago, was also targeted.
Kelly, 46, of Moscar, Sheffield, said: “I felt sick and mad. They are expensive things, it’s not just stuff we have got from Poundland.
“We went down on what would have been his birthday and put a pendant there from my mum. They’ve taken that. My mum is really upset.”
Tanya’s grave is next that of stillborn twins Waide and Jobie Fairhurst, whose plot had cherished teddy bears, blankets, bottles and dummies stolen from it last month.
There are thought to have been around a dozen graves recently targeted.
Sheffield Council bereavement services manager Sue Nadin said: “We are very sorry to hear about these thefts at City Road Cemetery.
“Although you would expect people to have more respect for bereaved relatives, this is not always the case and a sad reflection on our society.
“We do try to warn visitors not to place anything of personal value on graves but it is entirely at their discretion whether or not they follow this.
“We are working closely with the police to try to prevent any further incidents at the crematorium and cemetery.
“City Road is a 100-acre public space that is open to all visitors during daylight hours and locked at night.
“In terms of security we do what we can with the resources we have, but we have to strike a balance between this and keeping a peaceful space where people are free to come and spend time with their thoughts.”
Funeral directors condemned the thefts.
Adam Heath, of John Heath and Sons Funeral Directors, Burngreave, said: “It’s absolutely awful - I can’t think of anything worse than to attack someone in the depths of grief. It’s shocking.”
Stephen Parkin, of Peace Funerals, Gleadless, said: “It’s disgusting - not what you would expect to happen in a cemetery. You wouldn’t wish it on anyone.”
And Eric Eye, of Eric Eye Funeral Service, said: “What can you think of people who steal from graveyards?”
Anyone with information is asked to call police on 101 quoting crime reference number K/37572/2012.