Grieving Sheffield mum heartbroken after thieves steal solar lights from baby’s grave

A grieving mother was sickened to find a thief had targeted the grave where her baby daughter was buried just weeks earlier in Sheffield.

By Robert Cumber
Thursday, 6th May 2021, 12:45 pm
Updated Friday, 7th May 2021, 7:37 am

Brooke Staves says other graves at City Road Cemetery have also been ransacked, with one woman revealing how a plant at her husband’s final resting place had been dug up and stolen.

Ms Staves discovered on Wednesday that solar lights at the grave of her daughter Imogen, who was stillborn the day after her due date in February and was laid to rest there the following month, had been taken.

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Imogen Harrison's grave at City Road Cemetery before the lights were stolen

"I was there on Saturday and returned on Wednesday to find they’d been nicked,” said the 27-year-old, of Mosborough.

"It’s hard enough losing your baby so tragically but for someone to do this has left me even more heartbroken.

"This is the place I go to be close to Imogen and this made me feel sick.

"Only the lowest of the low would steal from a grave, let alone a baby’s grave.”

Brooke Staves, her daughter Aiyla and her partner Lee Harrison at Imogen's funeral, and Imogen's grave lit up by the lights before they were stolen

Ms Staves told how she and her partner Lee Harrison had only put up the lights as temporary decorations while they save up to pay for a headstone.

Since sharing her disgust via social media, she revealed that several other people had been in touch to say their families’ graves had also been looted or vandalised.

When one woman reported it to ground staff at the cemetery, she was told they were ‘not surprised’.

Ms Staves said there appears to be a long-running problem with thefts from the cemetery, based on the responses she has received from other distraught families, including a number of cases in recent days.

On Saturday night, she said one woman had seen a car racing around the burial place after dark and a ‘weird man wandering round the graves’, which she believes may be connected to the thefts.

Ms Staves, who has another daughter, Aiyla, aged five, added that there is gap in the cemetery fence at Manor Park Crescent, which she says many mourners use to visit their loved ones after hours but which she believes thieves may also be using to gain access.

She has called to for CCTV cameras covering the graves to be installed to prevent further heartbreak for other families.

A spokesperson for Sheffield Council, which manages the cemetery, said: “It’s really sad that some people show no regard or respect for the deceased, by stealing items from the graves. Unfortunately, thieves lack the basic morals to care about the effect this will have on those who are grieving.

"We do not have the resources to monitor this type of activity across all of our 16 cemeteries. We understand that it is very upsetting for those visiting a loved one’s memorial space that has been damaged, disturbed or stolen from.

"We try to make our cemeteries as secure as possible, but some, including City Road, can be accessed out of hours. If people witness criminal or suspicious activity in our cemeteries, they should report this to the police on 101.”