Page last updated at 17:32 GMT, Thursday, 20 September 2007 18:32 UK

Plea to return memorial plaques

Oxford Crematorium memorial plaques (Copyright Stephanie Jenkins)
Police are investigating the theft at Oxford Crematorium

An appeal has been made to the "consciences" of thieves who targeted a crematorium's garden of remembrance.

About 200 bronze plaques were unscrewed from memorials in Oxford Crematorium on Monday night or Tuesday morning.

Police said the theft was "disturbing" and asked the culprits to leave the plaques where they could be found.

The crime has been linked to the theft of thousands of pounds worth of copper and lead from a nearby 12th century church the following night.

Det Sgt Darren Cartwright, of Thames Valley Police, said: "We would urge the thieves to look to their conscience and leave these plaques somewhere they can be found and returned."

This incident is particularly unsavoury and disturbing
Det Sgt Darren Cartwright, Thames Valley Police

A rise in the amount of metal stolen in Oxfordshire has been driven by high scrap prices, he added.

Thames Valley Police have been speaking to scrap dealers in the region to ask them not to buy the memorial plaques.

Det Sgt Cartwright said: "We are tentatively linking this with the theft of copper tiles from St Mary's Church in Garsington on Tuesday night, because of the closeness in time and location.

"However, this incident is particularly unsavoury and disturbing.

"It will be distressing to many people and we are doing all we can to track down those behind it."

Dignity, the company that operates Oxford Crematorium on Bayswater Road, said they would be replacing the plaques at no extra cost to relatives.

"We apologise for any distress caused to families by these extremely thoughtless actions," said spokesman Steve Gant.

He said staff would remain vigilant to safeguard the grounds.



SEE ALSO
Thieves take crematorium plaques
20 Sep 07 |  Oxfordshire
New metal roof stolen from church
20 Sep 07 |  Oxfordshire
Security increased at crematorium
27 Apr 07 |  Somerset

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