Brassy thieves tar­get grave memo­ri­als

Central Leader - - News - By Janie Smith

Bronze plaques stolen from Waikaraka Ceme­tery may be the lat­est ca­su­al­ties of the un­der­ground scrap­metal mar­ket.

Fif­teen large plaques were taken in the last fort­night, al­though ceme­tery staff found 11 of them dumped in bushes not far from the graves they were taken from.

Some plaques were pried off mil­i­tary graves at the One­hunga ceme­tery, but the four plaques still miss­ing were stolen from civil­ian head­stones.

“There’s no other rea­son to take them other than to sell them to a re­ceiver for scrap­metal,” says se­nior sergeant Hirone Ware­tini.

Po­lice have alerted other ceme­ter­ies about the thefts.

And the Scrap­metal Dealers As­so­ci­a­tion has put out no­tices to its mem­bers to keep a look out for the plaques.

An­other 75 plaques were taken from Otahuhu Ceme­tery in the same week­end, in­clud­ing 45 from vet­er­ans’ graves.

Auck­land city coun­cil­lor Greg Moyle is dis­gusted by the thefts. “Where do they get off? “It’s just fright­en­ing,” he says.

“We’re ap­peal­ing to any­one who knows any­thing about it to come for­ward.”

Waikaraka Ceme­tery is reg­u­larly pa­trolled by se­cu­rity guards but does not have se­cu­rity cam­eras.

The cost of a re­place­ment plaque is around $1000.

The coun­cil is un­able to lo­cate next of kin or de­scen­dants of some of the grave sites and en­cour­ages those who have rel­a­tives buried at the ceme­ter­ies to phone the ceme­tery with queries.

The plaques are the lat­est items to be stolen in a spate of metal thefts from coun­cil prop­erty across the city.

Bronze sculp­tures and stat­ues, steel rub­bish bins, cop­per flash­ing and stormwa­ter grates were also stolen re­cently.

To con­tact Waikaraka Ceme­tery, phone 636-7054.

Photo JA­SON OX­EN­HAM

Brassed off: Ceme­ter­ies man­ager Donna Kelly with one of the re­cov­ered bronze plaques at Waikaraka Ceme­tery.

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