A Stratford widow is upset by the theft of items left at her husband's grave over the past few years.

Margaret, who has asked to be identified by her first name only, says since her husband's ashes were interred at Stratford's Kopuatama Cemetery three years ago, his grave site has been targeted by thieves on several occasions.

The items taken range from flower vases to small stones placed there by her grandchildren.

"They aren't things of real value to anyone else, but to our family they meant something, and to have them taken is upsetting."


Margaret checked with the Stratford District Council to ensure the items hadn't been removed by contractors responsible for keeping the cemetery tidy, and says she and her family were always careful to place things directly on the site so they wouldn't get in the way of lawn mowing or ground maintenance.

"We secured the items as well, using blu tac, so they won't have just blown away. Someone has clearly directly taken them."

When the Stratford Press visited the cemetery last week, there were items placed on many of the graves there.

One woman, who was visiting her husband's grave, said she had also had items go missing.

"Over the years there have been a few things, a small statue, some flowers, even a laminated photo I had put there attached to a stone."

While the woman, who didn't want to give her name, said she hadn't reported the missing items to the council, she said it had made her more cautious about placing things there.

"Now I really only bring flowers. I did have a statue in my house I was going to put here, but I decided to put it in my garden instead. I didn't want it to go missing."

Melanie McBain, the council's acting parks and property asset manager, says it has had calls from three people about missing items over the past two years.


There are rules about what is placed at grave sites, she says, and the cemeteries bylaw explains this.

"We ask that no glass or other easily breakable objects are used as memorials and that all loose memorial objects are placed on the concrete berm clear of the grassed area."

Contractors will remove items if they have broken and fallen on to the grass, McBain says.

"If an item has fallen but is not broken they will place it on the nearest headstone to where they found it. We know members of the public visiting the cemetery often do this too, to help keep the cemetery tidy."

She says if people do notice something is missing they should contact the council.

"Have a look around neighbouring headstones first in case someone has placed it back on the wrong headstone. If not found then please contact council to check if contractors have found it while maintaining the grounds."

Margaret says she and her family have always followed the rules regarding items being placed at her husband's grave, and are sure they can't have fallen or got in the way of contractors.

She says the thought the items have been stolen upsets her.

"People don't respect the dead doing things like that, do they? Going to my husband's grave and putting small things there has been something we have done as a family, and it is hurtful someone would take them away. The grandchildren have been upset that things they put there have gone."