Heartless thieves: a family's grief as precious items stolen from father's grave

HEARTLESS THEFT: Recent thefts at Orange cemetery has prompted Tegan Mitchell to call for CCTV cameras to be installed there. Photo: STEVE GOSCH

HEARTLESS THEFT: Recent thefts at Orange cemetery has prompted Tegan Mitchell to call for CCTV cameras to be installed there. Photo: STEVE GOSCH

WHEN Tegan Mitchell visited her father's grave at Orange cemetery this week there was yet another reason for her tears to flow, thieves had once again targeted her father's grave and stolen ornaments and keepsakes.

Mrs Mitchell said this is the second time the thefts have occurred in the past two weeks, the latest in a string of thefts at her father's graveside.

Mrs Mitchell said she and her family want Orange City Council to install CCTV cameras at the site to catch those responsible.

"They stole solar lights, butterflies and angels," she said.

Mrs Mitchell said she has no idea who has taken the items, but doesn't believe school kids are responsible.

"We laid him up there to rest, and now he still can't get rest there," she said.

Mrs Mitchell said she and her family visit the graveside nearly every day, if it's not raining, however the visits have become increasingly difficult after each theft.

"I've started putting it off a little, it's disheartening if you can't have it looking nice," she said.

"The kids take a lot of stuff up there, all his grand kids do, so it's devastating when things go missing.

"It ends up in tears nearly every time we go up there."

Mrs Mitchell said her family isn't the only one being targeted by the thieves, a family friend has also recently had items stolen from her son's graves.

"This is not just about money, if it was we wouldn't keep replacing them, it's about showing how much his family cared for him."

Mrs Mitchell said while police and council staff do their best to keep an eye on the graves CCTV cameras may be the only way to stop the theft.

Canobolas Local Area Command police are investigating the theft of a number of ornaments from the cemetery sometime between 12.00pm on 

Sunday and 3.00pm on Monday.

Duty officer Scott Russell said police regularly patrol the area.

"We'd like the public to report any suspicious behaviour to police and then we can act on it when it's occurring," he said.

Council spokesperson Allan Reeder said the Orange community has generally shown itself to be very sensitive to families who have recently lost loved ones. 

"The theft of ornaments and other material placed on graves by grieving families is very rare," he said.

"When a family raised concerns recently they were encouraged by cemetery staff to approach police, but the overall number of complaints doesn't indicate a change of management strategy is needed.

"Council is comfortable with the current level of security at the cemetery."

Mr Reeder said installing CCTV cameras would be an undue intrusion on grieving families and this step is not being considered.

tracey.prisk@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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