THIEVES have stolen Victorian grave markers from a cemetery for the third time.
About 40 cast iron markers were stolen from Sunderland Cemetery in Ryhope Road, Grangetown, on Tuesday.
They weigh two stones each and were installed in the 1800s to mark grave locations.
Acting Neighbourhood Inspector Ged Fairclough, who covers the area, said: “It really is despicable that someone has such complete disregard for their heritage, and have stolen items which are of significant historic value.”
Metal theft has become a major problem across the North East, with Sunderland Cemetery becoming a regular target.
Tuesday’s incident follows two similar thefts. Last month 24 markers were taken.
Mr Fairclough added: “We are working very closely with scrap metal yards throughout the area, and in other areas, to establish whether anyone has tried to sell the markers to them.
“Additional officers will be on patrol in and around the cemetery to catch those responsible and we’d urge anyone with any information to contact police.”
Sunderland Council leader Paul Watson said: “This is appalling, and it beggars belief about the lack of respect that metal thieves are showing.
“I would appeal to anyone who saw anything suspicious in the cemetery to contact the police.”
He added: “I would also urge any scrap metal dealers who are approached by someone trying to sell these markers to report it as a matter of urgency.”
Police are urging any witnesses to come forward. Call 101, extension 69191.