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The two sisters were visiting their sister's grave ahead the anniversary of her death
A thief stole a woman's bag as she visited her sister's grave to mark the eighth anniversary of her death.
Sisters Doreen Henning, 74, of Drysdale Avenue in Chingford, and Beryl Farrow, 78, from Cheshunt, travelled to their sister’s grave at Holy Innocents Church in High Beach, Epping on Saturday.
As they were paying their respects and laying flowers at the plot shared by Doris and husband Eric, Mrs Farrow’s car was broken into and Mrs Henning’s bag stolen.
The sister’s were visited the grave ahead of the anniversary of her death on Monday. Also buried at the site is Doris’s grandson, Jack who died aged three.
Mrs Henning had left her handbag on the floor of the passenger seat of the Ford Fiesta as the car was parked outside the church and the pair could see the car from the grave.
As Mrs Henning stood at the grave, which faces the main road, she noticed a black car stopped in the middle of the main road.
“The man sat in the car for a while and then just drove off.
“I think he was keeping watch of us whilst someone broke into the car,” Mrs Henning said.
When they returned to the car they found it had been broken into.
It is belived the thief inserted a screwdriver inbetween the window and the door to stop the alarm sounding and smashed the glass of the passenger window.
In the handbag was Mrs Henning’s mobile phone and purse, which contained cash and credit and debit cards.
When Mrs Henning contacted police to report the theft, an officer told her that thieves were targeting cemeteries because they are seen as 'easy pickings’.
She also added: “We thought our belongings would be safe as we could see the car from the church and because we never thought we would be targeted while visiting loved ones.
“It is absolutely awful that someone would target people who are vulnerable and visiting loved ones, especially at this time of year.”
Reverend Gill Hopkins of Holy Innocents Church said there had been a number of similar thefts.
She said: "There has been quite a few instances of cars being broken into and belongings taken, including our treasurer whose handbag was stolen from her car even though it was hidden under her seat.
"If a handbag is in view, it will be taken. There are nasty people out there, who are desperate and see an opportunity to grab it.
"Sadly, churches are not protected or exempt from nasty things happening, and they don't think about other people as they are probably desperately trying to survive themselves."
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