Brassy thieves target grave memorials
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.
Brassed off: Cemeteries manager Donna Kelly with one of the recovered bronze plaques at Waikaraka Cemetery.