Theft from grave leaves family heartbroken

Husband and wife, Phil and Chris at their family grave plot in Sidmouth cemetry. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref shs 2966-21-14AW Husband and wife, Phil and Chris at their family grave plot in Sidmouth cemetry. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref shs 2966-21-14AW

Thursday, May 29, 2014
6:00 AM

A THIEF who preyed on Sidmouth cemetery and stole plants from a family grave has left the couple who lovingly tend to the plot heartbroken and disgusted.

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Phil Tree – who nurtures and maintains the memorial to her father, mother and brother - has described the culprit who targeted it as ‘the worst of the worst’.

The retired legal cashier and her husband, Chris, 70, visit the well-maintained, flower-laden grave every other day and it has been attended to by the family for 30 years. They could not believe it on Tuesday after finding a deep red geranium and two marigolds had been taken from the centre of the plot.

The person responsible even left a footprint in the soil.

Phil, of Fortfield Chambers, said: “I find it hard to comprehend that anyone would stoop as low as to steal from a grave.

“It was upsetting. They took three plants. You could see the footprint where they have had to step on it.

“I don’t know what to think of them – it’s the worst of the worst. Someone taking flowers out of a garden is bad enough – but I can’t get my head around a grave. It is a very special place for the family. We really look after it.

“I would hate to think this could happen to anyone else. It was heartbreaking.”

Phil reported the incident to the district council.

She has spoken out in the hope that nothing similar happens to any other families.

Police Sergeant Andy Squires described the act as ‘the ultimate disrespect’.

He said such incidents of theft were an arrestable offence that could ultimately lead to a six month prison term or a £1,000 fine.

“If it does get reported to us then we’ll do what we can to track down the offender,” added Sgt Squires.

A spokesman for East Devon District Council, which owns and looks after the cemetery, said: “This type of theft is a particularly despicable act but thankfully something that occurs only infrequently.”

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