Thieves steal names of borough war dead in shameful raid on memorial

Thurrock Independent Exclusive

THIEVES have struck at a recently renovated memorial to a town’s war dead and stolen metal plaques that carried their names.

The crime was discovered today (Sunday, 31 March) just a few hundred yards away from where a service was being held to pay tribute to artillerymen shot down a Zeppelin in the First World War.

Two of four plaques have been removed from the memorial at St Stephen’s Church, it is believed as recently as last evening. Debris from the drilling out of the secured rivets was still scattered on the steps of the memorial.

The stolen plaques in place at last year’s service.

A member of St Stephen’s congregation described the theft as shocking, shameful and upsetting, adding: “It makes you wonder just how low some people will go.”

Church warden Demus Lee said he was shocked and that he would be contacting the police and Thurrock Council – who are responsible for the memorial – to see what might be done to get a replacements in place, and to review their security.

Borough deputy Mayor, Cllr Terry Picollo, who was at the nearby service also described the theft as shocking and said he would be asking officers to take action to restore the memorial as soon as possible.

It was only last autumn that the memorial was renovated by the council in time for last’s years’ special centenary commemorations of the end of the First World War. St Stephen’s is traditionally the first Thurrock venue to pay annual tribute to borough fallen on the first Sunday in November.

A statement from Thurrock Council says: “We are aware of the theft of plaques from the war memorial at St Stephen’s Church in Purfleet and will be working with the church, the community and to look into this incident and ensure they are replaced as quickly as possible.”