People visiting local cemeteries have been warned to be vigilant after thieves stole a 97-year-old woman’s handbag while she visited her daughter-in-law’s grave.
The sickening incident happened at Carnmoney Cemetery East on October 16, but the details only came to light this week when the victim’s son spoke out after hearing that a similar incident took place at Ballyclare Cemetery recently.
Newtownabbey man Jim Long was taking his 97-year-old mother, Mary to see the new headstone on his late wife’s grave on a quiet Friday afternoon when the thieves struck.
The 73-year-old, whose wife Anne passed away just three months ago, thought his was the only car in the cemetery when he parked up.
“My mother wanted to see the new headstone so I’d taken her up to the cemetery,” Mr Long told the Times.
“She’s on a zimmer so I was helping her across the grass and we were about half way to the grave when I heard my car alarm going off. I looked back and I could see a car pulled up level beside mine. I walked back towards the car and the other one drove off.
“I had left the window open about two inches and they’d used something to put through the gap and open the door. They stole my mother’s handbag, which she’d left on the floor of the car. She had just collected her pension money so there must have been about £350 in the bag.”
Mr Long said he and his mother were “shocked and upset” that someone could stoop to such a low.
“They’re scumbags. That’s the only word for them,” he added.
A spokesperson for Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council confirmed that they are aware of reports of thefts from cars in Carnmoney and Ballyclare Cemeteries in recent weeks. In both instances the victims were visiting loved one’s graves.
“The incidents have been reported directly to the police for investigation,” the spokesperson said.
“When council staff are on site, they keep a watchful eye on activity but would appeal to those parking their cars to ensure they are locked and items of value placed out of sight.
“Park wardens make the cemeteries a priority for patrols. However, if anyone has concerns about suspicious activity in the cemetery, please report it to the police immediately,” she added.
Police have confirmed that they are investigating both incidents and have appealed for anyone with relevant information to contact them on 101.