Memorial plaques stolen from Beckenham Crematorium recovered in police raid
PUBLISHED: 15:07 17 May 2012
Memorial plaques which were stolen from a crematorium in Beckenham have been recovered during a police raid on a scrap metal yard in south-west London.
The haul recovered in the raid include 40 plaques from Beckenham along with hundreds of memorial plaques from churches and crematoriums, a statue of Christ and entire intact cross, a giant ornamental Oriental dragon statue and copper cabling.
Police said they found 150 intact memorial brass plaques with inscriptions commemorating the lives of loved ones which are each worth about £50 to £100.
Some of them had been marked with Smartwater - a liquid which gives the item a unique ‘code’ and means that police have already been able to identify at least 40 stolen from a Beckenham crematorium.
The owner of the yard and another employee have now been charged in connection with the raid, and investigations continue.
The yard was one of number targeted across London in the highly targeted two day operation on Monday and Tuesday, which saw a total of ten arrests, a significant number of stolen vehicles recovered, and fixed penalty notices issued for waste offences.
Acting Inspector James Coomber, the operation coordinator, said: “This represents a significant find in our ongoing efforts to target metal theft. The majority of scrap metal dealers who are legitimate support our targeting of those acting outside of the law. Those contributing to the thriving illegal trade can expect regular operations to search, detect and arrest those profiting from it.
“We are focusing our resources on yards where intelligence leads us to believe they are taking in stolen metal, not recording items lawfully, and committing related offences. Metal theft is not a victimless crime and the public can play a vital part helping us by reporting anything suspicious to us.
“Don’t assume if you see workers in the street with cable that they are legitimate, even if they are in high visibility vests, and watch out for itinerant collectors who come door to door as we know a number of these are involved in domestic metal theft, for example lead from roofs of houses.
“If you have any information relating to metal theft you can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111, or 999 if you believe a crime is being committed in front of you. Otherwise you can report on the non-emergency 101 number.”