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19 May, 2022

Family shocked at grave thieves

HEARTLESS thieves have stolen sentimental items from multiple graves, leaving one family in shock and disbelief that their relatives’ final resting place had been defiled.

By Ellie Fink

Whilst visiting their family’s graves over the Mother’s Day weekend, Alexandra Cook and her mother Doreen Cook discovered that the pots and plants they had placed on three graves had been taken and dirt thrown over the area. 

Although Alexandra never met her late great grandparents and her uncle, she still took the time to decorate their graves with succulents and other plants which she had grown herself. When arriving at the Atherton Cemetery on Mother’s Day, Alexandra noticed the plants had gone missing, with nothing but a mess of dirt being left on top of the grave. 

“We saw that the plants had gone missing, but what they’d also done was empty the dirt in the pots all over the grave and just took the pots and the actual plant,” Alexandra said. “I was really upset. I cried a little even because I had made these succulent pots for them so they would have something growing all year round and it was so disrespectful and disgusting that someone had taken them. “I’m really disappointed in these people – it’s like stealing from the living isn’t enough so they have to steal from the dead? What’s next, are they going to start digging people up to see if they were buried with jewellery to steal? “Most of those people in the Atherton Cemetery are the people who made Atherton what it is today and they worked extremely hard their whole lives only to have someone with no respect to come and take all that is left for them.” 

After contacting the police, the Cooks soon learned their families grave wasn’t the only one targeted after confiding with others at the cemetery at the time. Fresh flowers from other graves had been torn and thrown across grave sites, crystal glasses had gone missing, and someone had attempted to steal a cross ornament glued onto the grave. 

Taking to Facebook, Alexandra and Doreen soon learned that this is a common occurrence in the cemetery, with others telling stories of their deceased loved ones being robbed of their gifts. “Someone said they’d put things such as solar lights on their loved one’s graves which had been stolen and there were so many stories of people stealing from the dead,” Doreen said. “These are special things for people to do and to pay their respects to their loved ones after they’ve passed on and someone has come along and ruined it. “It’s honestly just heart wrenching and it’s upsetting to see.” 

Police advised the Cooks to look for any evidence the perpetrators could have left behind and recommended installing a trail camera as a way to capture the culprits if they were to do it again. Tablelands Patrol Group Acting Inspector Kyell Palmer said investigations were underway and asked anyone with information to come forward. 

“Atherton Police will be increasing patrols of these areas in an effort to prevent these types of offences from being committed,” he said. After being informed of the incident, Tablelands Regional Council Mayor Rod Mardi expressed his disappointment. “This situation is disturbing, and we are saddened that people in our community have such little respect or regard for others,” he said. “Our cemeteries are always open as we feel it is important that people have unlimited access to visit their loved ones. “We don’t have CCTV and believe there is no easy solution to prevent this damage and vandalism from happening. We’re keen to assist the Queensland Police with their investigation in any way we can.” 

Since the incident, Alexandra and Doreen have returned to their family’s graves and removed the remaining pot plants to prevent more thefts. Still angered by the incident, Alexandra hopes more security measures will be taken to monitor who is entering and leaving the vicinity. 

If anyone has any information in relation to the theft, please contact CrimeStoppers or Atherton Police on 4091 9800.

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