Page last updated at 14:14 GMT, Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Memorial theft 'deeply shocking'

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War memorial plaques stolen

War graves officials say they are "deeply shocked" by the theft of five bronze panels from a memorial in a Manchester cemetery.

The 6ft (1.8m) high panels, bearing the names of dozens of servicemen and women, were prised off the memorial in Philips Cemetery, Bradford.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission said the incident was particularly upsetting so close to Remembrance Day.

Anyone with information about the theft on Saturday is urged to contact police.

'Cruel and shameful'

Commission spokesman Peter Francis said: "Thefts of this nature have sadly been on the increase because of the global increase in the price of raw materials.

"However, it absolutely beggars belief that as we approach Remembrance Day, someone could stoop so low as to steal a memorial commemorating those brave men and women who gave their lives for us during two world wars.

"The commission is deeply shocked and distressed by this news."

Thieves stole five of the 10 panels on the memorial.

It is believed they were taken for scrap, as the panels could be worth up to 300 each.

Damaged memorial
Half of the memorial's panels were stolen

Mr Francis said it would cost 10,000 and take up to 18 months to replace the plaques, which are made in Australia.

Insp Chris Hadfield, of Greater Manchester Police, said the theft was "cruel and shameful".

"These large slabs of metal are heavy. It is unlikely that one person could have moved them alone, and they probably had a vehicle with them too.

"We want to appeal today to anyone who might have seen people acting suspiciously in and around the cemetery at the weekend to contact us."

Officers are also appealing to any scrap dealers who might have been approached by people offering to sell the panels to get in touch.

"If we can, we really want to return these plaques to their rightful place so the relatives of the men in whose memory they were made can lay their wreaths under them on Sunday."



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