Cemetery theft

Ghoulish thieves stole 55 bronze headstones from a Westbank cemetery and then scrubbed off the names of the deceased in an attempt to make the plaques valuable for metal recycling.

Compassionate members of the public can help repair damage done by vandals at the Westbank Cemetery.

The City of West Kelowna has set up a trust fund to help pay for new grave markers to replace those stolen in mid-September.

Replacement costs are estimated to be $9,400, West Kelowna city councillors will hear today.

Ghoulish thieves cut the locks on the cemetery gate on the weekend of Sept. 14 and stole 55 bronze headstones from plots in the cremation section of the cemetery. Police later recovered all the stolen markers.

Thirty-six of the plaques were still in good condition and can be reattached to granite bases. But 19 were damaged, with the deceased’s name being scrubbed off in an apparent attempt to make the plaques valuable for metal recycling.

Since the theft, the city has upgraded the locks at the cemetery and increased security patrols. Consideration is being given to installing surveillance cameras.

In addition, the city has waived the installation charge for those markers in good condition, and officials say they’ve sourced low-cost replacements for the damaged plaques.

“To a large extent, our clients are disappointed at this act of brazen theft but in the same light thankful of the position and assistance the city has taken on this matter,” reads part of a staff report to council.

Donations to the trust fund will be accepted by the city until Dec. 6, or until the $9,412 goal is achieved.