In a bid to stop metal thieves causing unnecessary heartache for families, memorial plaques being mounted in Wandsworth cemeteries will now be made using alternative materials.
Last month, police officers uncovered about 300 plaques that had been cut up into pieces during a raid on a scrap metal dealer in Croydon. It was subsequently confirmed that some of the broken memorial plaques had been stolen from Putney Vale Cemetery.
Wandsworth Council’s cemeteries team have ordered replacement plaques in a material called Traffolyte - a type of plastic suitable for engraving. They are brown with gold lettering, and are screwed to a wooden backing plate.
The new materials are used to retain quality while ensuring the plaques do not become targets for callous metal thieves, whose actions result in suffering for the families and friends who commissioned the memorials. Any new plaques being mounted in the borough’s cemeteries will also be made using Traffolyte.
The council’s cabinet member for environment, culture and community safety, Councillor Jonathan Cook, said: “Knowing that a plaque honouring a friend or family member has been stolen is bad enough – but to hear that it’s been ruthlessly cut into pieces by criminals whose sole purpose is to line their own pockets must be truly heartbreaking.
“I hope that these new-style memorial plaques will bring some peace of mind to the loved ones of those they commemorate.
“I would like to commend police for the work they are doing tracking down the metal thieves responsible for thefts of this nature, who are nothing more than a scourge on our society.
“I sincerely hope these lawbreakers receive the punishment they deserve when they are brought before the courts to answer for their despicable crime.”
The raid on the Croydon-based scrap metal dealer was part of Operation Ferrous, the Metropolitan Police Service’s operation to tackle the problem of metal theft.
To report a metal theft call police on 999 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
June 15, 2012