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Police uncover stolen memorial plaques from Beckenham Cemetery
POLICE have uncovered dozens of memorial plaques which were stolen from a Beckenham cemetery.
Around 150 intact plaques were among the items recovered in a huge raid on a Croydon scrap metal dealer’s yard. Hundreds more had been cut into pieces.
At least 40 have been identified as coming from the cemetery in Elmers End Road, where 80 plaques were stolen in October.
The plaques, which are made out of bronze and brass, are estimated to be worth between £50 and £100 for each one.
Janet Tucker, 59, from Catford, was horrified when the plaque from her father's grave in the cemetery was stolen.
She said: "What has really got me is just the thought of someone standing there breaking up plaques, maybe MY Dad’s plaque, with MY Dad’s name on it, with all the personal wording on it that as a family we decided to put on that plaque fills me with such anger, anger that I didn’t think was possible to have.
"If my Dad’s plaque was one of those, then that person had no right to do that. they didn’t know my Dad, they didn’t know he had fought in World War II and just the thought of some stranger even touching it makes me feel violated."
Among the other items found was a bronze dragon statue, worth £3,500 and copper cabling.
Detective Inspector Brian Hobbs, of Croydon Police, said: “The metal is very valuable, there is brass and bronze plus engraving costs. However, the real cost here is the emotional cost to the friends and family who bought the memorial plaques.
“I would urge anyone who has any information or has been in contact with people who they suspect may be selling stolen metal to contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”
Once the police have recorded the details of the plaques and carried out forensic tests the plaques will be returned to their owners.
The yard was one of number targeted in boroughs across London in the highly targeted two day operation on Monday and Tuesday, which saw a total of 10 arrests, a significant number of stolen vehicles recovered, and fixed penalty notices issued for waste offences.
Two men, aged 69 and 28, arrested on suspicion of possessing unlawfully gained metal, have now been charged with receiving and converting stolen goods.
The owner of the Croydon scrap metal yard where the loot was seized has been charged and remanded in custody, along with an employee who was discovered in the process of breaking up bronze plaques during the police raid.
It is thought the purpose of smashing the stolen plaques was in order for them to be melted down and re-used.
A third man was arrested but has not been charged.
The pair will appear in Croydon Magistrates court on May 18.
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