Family calls for CCTV after thefts from graves in Houghton Regis cemetery

Houghton Regis Cemetery. Photo from Google Maps
Houghton Regis Cemetery. Photo from Google Maps

A grieving widow has called for CCTV cameras to be installed at Houghton Regis Cemetery after items were stolen from her husband’s grave.

Maureen Morgan visited the cemetery on Friday morning and was shocked to find that several lanterns had been stolen.

She said: “I went up there to put some flowers on the grave and I went to put a candle in the lantern and I realised that it was gone, it was one that has been bought for Father’s Day.

“When I looked around the grave I noticed that seven lanterns and lights had been taken. I spoke to another lady there and she said she had heard that there had been quite a few incidents there where things had been taken from graves.

“We asked if we could have CCTV there but they said they are unable to. They are planning on adding to the cemetery and some money has been allocated to that but I think that if people will come here and steal from graves, a new area will also be targeted by thieves.

“People should feel safe here and should be able to leave things at their loved ones graves without worrying about them being stolen.”

The thefts have been reported to Houghton Regis Town Council and Bedfordshire Police.

Maureen’s daughter Nichola said: “As a family we have lit a candle in the lantern each and every single night since his passing. We also have subtle LED lights, as do a lot of the other graves. It is a really nice cemetery and we were very pleased our dad is resting here.

“The lengths some people would lower themselves to is utterly unbelievable and we are desperate for people to hear about this to ensure the word is put out there that this heinous type of act is not an easy pill to swallow.

“The complete disregard for personal belongings placed by family members in grief is nothing but sickening.

“I understand the Council have plans to improve the site further by introducing an area for ashes and this is complete with various structures which is a lovely idea and I am sure will be welcomed by those who could possibly utilise this moving forward.

“But it will obviously cost a fair amount and if the actions of the few continue it will surely and swiftly be proven to be a waste of funds unless security can be raised somewhat.

“The hurt caused to families who are subject to this form of antisocial behaviour cannot be calculated and I cannot help but wonder if the cost of introducing some form of security to put at ease existing family members or friends with loved ones who are resting at Houghton Regis Cemetery should supersede the new additions or improvements.”

The Houghton Regis Clerk Town, Clare Evans, said: “This is indeed very sad and distressing for all. Many families choose to place items on graves and, although thankfully it is rare, we do sometimes have incidences of theft from the cemetery.

“The Council’s Cemetery Regulations do advise that items are left there at the families own risk as we are unable to put measures in place to ensure their security. A search of the area has taken place but we have been unable to locate any items. It has been reported to the police.

“In relation to the area of the cemetery to be created shortly, this is a necessity to enable the council to continue to provide entombment options for the future. The new area will offer a variety of entombment options in a landscaped setting. Work on this area is due to start this summer.”

Nichola added: “I think security needs to be improved, they need to have CCTV and maybe locked gates in the evening, something to deter people from stealing from the graves.

“I think many people will be as shocked as we were that this is happening, this sort of thing should never happen at a cemetery.”

A spokesman for Bedfordshire Police said: “We are investigating a report of a theft from Houghton Regis cemetery which occurred overnight between 5pm on Thursday (20 June) and 11am the following morning (Friday 21 June).

“Anyone with any information is urged to contact police on 101 quoting the reference 40/35290/19. We would also encourage anyone who witnesses any suspicious activity to report this to us.”