Thieves target grieving families at Ayr cemetery
South Ayrshire Council is asking for the public's support to help identify "heartless" thieves who have stolen wreaths from graves at Ayr Cemetery, targeting grieving families at one of the most difficult times of the year.
After receiving complaints from families who had placed wreaths at the graves of their loved ones only to discover they were missing on their return, cemetery staff believe even more wreaths may have been stolen.
At this time of the year, staff usually see large numbers of wreaths placed at graves around the cemetery – but with areas of the cemetery where wreaths have gone missing displaying less festive tributes than usual, many more families could be affected.
Councillor Ian Cochrane, the Council's Portfolio Holder for the Environment, said: "This is a mindless act by heartless thieves who are, quite simply, the lowest of the low – hitting families at what is always a difficult time of the year.
"At South Ayrshire Council, we work hard to support grieving families at Christmas with our dedicated Candlelight Service and do all we can to ensure our cemeteries provide a place of comfort and solace.
"However, these pointless thefts only serve to make the festive period even more of a struggle for these families and my heart goes out to them."
One family affected was that of Alan Kennedy from Ayr, who was killed in a road accident in Ayr in January 2005.
Alan's wife Lilian discovered the theft of two family wreaths from her husband's grave when she visited the cemetery to lay her own festive tribute earlier this week.
Lilian said: "I always have flowers at Alan's grave, visit the cemetery regularly and knew that the family had started to lay this year's wreaths ahead of Christmas. I was shocked when I got there and there was no sign of them and after telling the cemetery staff, I discovered there had been numerous thefts within the cemetery.
"I cannot understand why anyone would want to take something that has been laid in memory of someone who has passed away, especially at this time of year.
"It's a truly disrespectful and despicable act – affecting more than just our family – and I hope people can help catch the heartless individuals responsible."
Councillor Cochrane added: "I would urge anyone with information about these thefts to contact the police at the earliest opportunity on 101 so they can stop anyone else's Christmas being affected in the same way."