Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Outrage as graves are wrecked by car thieves

Graves have been damaged after car thieves drove a stolen car through a cemetery in Antrim.

Bereaved relatives arriving to pay their respects were left heartbroken after seeing the vandalism yesterday morning.

Police are hunting for three people — one thought to be aged just 16 — who left on foot after abandoning the vehicle.

The incident was reported to police around 1.30pm on Saturday.

Ulster Unionist councillor Adrian Watson, who visited the scene yesterday, said significant damage had been caused.

He told the Belfast Telegraph: “Headstones have been damaged, marble surrounds have been broken — it’s just a real mess.

“The car seems to have got stuck on top of one of the graves it was driving over.”

According to Mr Watson, one family visiting the cemetery yesterday left in disgust after seeing the vandalism.

“It has caused a lot of heartbreak,” he added.

“One family who visit a grave every Remembrance Sunday arrived to find that and just left.

“Unfortunately there are other families who are going to find it as well.

“It makes it even worse that it has taken place on Remembrance weekend.

“People are just disgusted.”

Mr Watson spent yesterday trying to find relatives of those buried in the damaged graves.

“Some of the graves are quite old, so it’s hard to know if relatives are still living,” he added.

“The people who did this are total thugs.

“They seemed to think it was a good idea to do some rallying around a cemetery without stopping to think of the hurt and distress which their actions would cause.”

Police said the car had been stolen from the Kingsmere Avenue area of Belfast on Saturday morning. It was removed from the cemetery and has been taken away for forensic examination.

One of three occupants was described by police as being 20 years old, with short dark hair, wearing a pink T-shirt, track bottoms and a cast on his right forearm.

Another was said to be 16 years old with crewcut-style hair and wearing a royal blue T-shirt and jeans.

The third was described as being 16-17 years of age, 5ft 9in tall and was wearing a blue hooded top and jeans.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact police.

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