POLICE have stepped up patrols in a city cemetery after an outbreak of vandalism and theft.
Headstones have been damaged and items moved or stolen from graves in Bishopwearmouth Cemetery, off Chester Road.
Northumbria Police’s Sunderland West Neighbourhood Policing Team is increasing patrols throughout the grounds in response.
Neighbourhood Inspector Lisa Laverick said: “This sort of mindless vandalism is completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated.
“Headstones being damaged and items stolen from graves causes a huge amount of upset and distress to the families whose loved ones’ graves have been affected.
“We will increase our patrols throughout the grounds to help prevent any further incidents and to provide a high visibility police presence to offer reassurance to members of the public visiting the cemetery.
“This sort of mindless vandalism is completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”Neighbourhood Inspector Lisa Laverick
“I would ask anyone who has information about those who may be responsible for these incidents to come forward and speak to officers as their information could help with our enquiries.”
Margaret Thompson, 73, whose mother, aunt and other relatives are buried at the cemetery, said: “I think it’s disgraceful really, it’s disgusting that people can go about like that. You can’t stoop any lower in my opinion.
“I don’t know what the police can do, because they can’t watch the graves all the time.
“I would be devastated if anything happened to my family’s graves. I don’t know what goes through these people’s minds. If these are kids doing it, what do their parents think?”
A city council spokesman said: “Cemeteries are about providing a peaceful, respectful and restful environment. We will not tolerate antisocial behaviour or vandalism in any of our cemeteries.
“We work closely with partners including the police to take action to stop problems occurring whenever we can.
“These patrols are welcome. If members of the public have any concerns, we can also talk to people directly on 520 5550 to discuss problems or issues.”
To contact police ring 101 ext 69191 quoting 0888 240315 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.