FAMILIES have been left devastated by a spate of vandalism and thefts at Leeds’s largest cemetery and crematorium.
The incidents at Lawnswood have led to renewed calls for CCTV to be installed at sites of rest across the city.
The YEP has reported in recent months about vandalism at other graveyards, including Harehills and Hunslet cemeteries.
Grahame Philpott turned up at Lawnswood last week to find a chaotic scene at his parents’ memorial plaque.
He was told by staff there had been a recent spate of littering, thefts and headstones and memorial damage.
His partner Miranda Lyons explained: “On a memory filled day – the date his dad passed away – he went and purchased flowers from the onsite shop and placed them in vases in front of his parents’ plaques.
“We returned later that evening only to find all the new flowers had been shredded, all the heads were ripped up and torn and some private items were disturbed .
“There were numerous other people’s plots disturbed and damaged. My partner, understandably, was very distressed.
“It is not about the money, it’s the desecration of the items and the lack of respect by the people who did this.”
She added: “Isn’t it time the council did something about this? I’m sure they could fit CCTV towers around the site without them looking too obtrusive or patrol the area in the day as well as night.”
“Something needs to be done.”
Glenys Horsman, 66, broke down in tears as she told the YEP about the damage to beloved husband of 45 years Derek’s grave.
Within a day of his £3,000 headstone being installed, thieves had struck and stolen ornaments and flowers from it.
Mrs Horsman, who is being treated for breast cancer, said: “When you lay somebody to rest you don’t expect people to come and steal off their graves. I think they should have CCTV in the cemetery.
“I am just so upset. I can’t sleep at night thinking ‘are they going to come back and knock my husband’s headstone over?’”
A spokeswoman for Leeds City Council said: “It is very distressing for families when vandalism occurs within any of our cemeteries. However we will always notify the police and work with them to see where improvements can be made to make our cemeteries more secure. We would encourage any member of the public to notify the police immediately if they see anyone acting suspiciously in any of our cemeteries.”