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Stolen memorial plaques replaced at Sanderstead church

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PLAQUES commemorating heroes of the First World War which were swiped by copper thieves have finally been replaced.

In 2011, two plaques in memory of more than 80 war veterans were stolen from Sanderstead's graveyard.

Since then, All Saints Church has been working with charities and the residents' association to raise enough money to replace them.

In the end, £7,000 was collected to have the memorials remade and dedicated back to the graveyard.

Michael Leach, of the Sanderstead Residents Association, said the group had contributed £2,000 to the cause.

He said: "We then had a service to re-dedicate the memorials in November. A lot of parishioners came to the service and were very happy to see them back."

Mr Leach said he wasn't aware of anyone in the village who was related to those whose plaques had been stolen.

Piers Hubbard, chairman of the All Saints council, was behind the push to organise replacements.

He said: "It was unclear at first who was responsible for getting new ones. Eventually, we thought we'd better do it, so we applied for grants and the War Memorial Trust gave us some help.

"However, it wanted the new plaques to be exactly like the original ones so it was very difficult to find someone to make them specially."

Mr Hubbard said cremation plaques had also gone missing in the raid and that a number of private family plaques had been taken, leaving gaping holes in the graveyard.

He added: "It was important to get them back.

"They were stolen with no thought for who it may affect."

Croydon South MP Richard Ottaway was so horrified by the crime that he pushed a private member's bill through parliament, to tackle metal theft and those targeting war memorials.

His Scrap Metal Dealers Bill became law in February and is reforming the industry with a licensing scheme that ensures every sale of scrap metal is accounted for, and that all traders are doing so legally.

On Tuesday, police marked the act coming into force with a national day of action against metal theft.

"For too many years, metal thefts from our transport, telecommunications and energy networks have held our communities to ransom and swindled the taxpayer of hundreds of millions of pounds," Mr Ottaway said.

"Even worse, thieves preyed on our national treasures – our churches, our loved ones' graves and our war memorials."

Stolen memorial plaques replaced at Sanderstead church


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