Metal thieves raid cemetery

Bereavement manager Michael Penwarden'surveys the damage at Carleton Crematorium
Bereavement manager Michael Penwarden'surveys the damage at Carleton Crematorium
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HEARTLESS thieves have wreaked havoc in a “despicable” raid at a Blackpool cemetery.

Mourners were greeted by heart-breaking scenes at Carleton Crematorium, where burglars smashed up the Jewish Prayer House and stole taps and copper piping – causing thousands of pounds in damage and leaving water coursing across the cemetery grounds.

Leon Tax, honorary president of Blackpool Reform Jewish Congregation, branded the attack “tantamount to attacking a synagogue” while a mum whose children are buried at the site labelled the thieves “disgusting”.

The prayer house door was smashed open during the raid and the room flooded after pipes were ripped out of the inside.

Meanwhile, pipes which run around the site for mourners to water plants and flowers have been ripped out leaving gallons of water pouring onto graves.

Police are investigating the thefts and have urged anyone with information to come forward to help catch the thieves.

And Mr Tax told The Gazette: “This is horrific. It’s just mindless desecration, it’s awful. It’s tantamount to attacking a church, synagogue or place of worship.”

Seven of the Stocks Road crematorium’s 10 taps have been damaged and plumbers spent yesterday battling to stop one cubic metre of water an hour – the volume of water normally used in one day at the crematorium – pouring into the ground.

Karen Nelson, treasurer of the Friends of Carleton Cemetery Babies, has helped raise cash to improve the crematorium grounds and has been left reeling from the attack.

Her premature babies Bradley, born at 30 weeks, and Lauren, born at 22 weeks, are both buried in the baby cemetery.

She said: “It makes me feel sick. Our babies are up there.

“How people can have the heart to go and do that in a cemetery – it’s disgusting. We’ve raised funds and put a lot of work into making the baby area and the cemetery in general better.”

It is not the first time the crematorium has been plagued by vandals.

Last September, thugs entered the site overnight and smashed ornaments and damaged flowers on graves.

Coun Tony Williams, Blackpool Council’s cabinet member for culture and communities, said: “I’m absolutely horrified to learn of this theft and vandalism.

“Anyone that could steal from a cemetery and sink so low as to vandalise a Jewish Prayer House is despicable in my eyes.

“Whoever is responsible needs to be caught and dealt with severely.

“We’ve started work to repair the damage but the bill will run into thousands.”

Sgt Martin Webster, of Blackpool Police, said: “This is a callous offence which has caused more than £3,500 in damage.”

Call Blackpool Police on (01253) 293933 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.