A woman who visited her mother’s grave on her birthday only to find flowerpots had been stolen has spoken of her shock that a “low life” thief would resort to such things.  

Claire Halfpenny and her four siblings erected a memorial bench opposite their mother’s grave at Chingford Mount Cemetery in Old Church Road to mark her first anniversary on October 19 2017.

The family spent £140 on four flowerpots which they placed on either side of the bench as a mark of respect to Clara Doherty, who died of an illness, aged 70.

On Friday, May 25, Ms Halfpenny of Walthamstow discovered two pots had gone missing – something she never considered would happen in a graveyard.

East London and West Essex Guardian Series:

The family placed the four pots beside the bench opposite their late mother's resting place.

To make matters worse, two weeks later she visited again on Wednesday, June 6, with a birthday card and flowers and found the remaining pots had been taken.

“You’ve got to be a real low life to do that kind of thing,” said the 48-year-old.

“To take two was bad enough but to go back and take the other two on her birthday was terrible.

“The pots were special and sentimental and it makes me and the whole family very angry that someone took them. If we had gotten hold of them we would have done something to them.

“We put lots of flowers and birthday cards on her grave – they must have seen them and known it was her birthday.”

The theft comes just five months after a pensioner travelled from France to visit her mother’s grave at Chingford Mount Cemetery and was left devastated when she found her headstone had been stolen.

East London and West Essex Guardian Series:

Eric Doherty, who lost his wife in October 2016, was angered by the recent theft.

Ms Halfpenny says the family spent £140 on the flowerpots, but insists it’s not the money they care about, it’s the fact the ornaments were “special and sentimental”.

She says the theft was a “blow” to her elderly father, Eric, who regularly visits the site and spends hours sitting on the bench overlooking his late wife’s grave.

The family are appealing to anyone who may have recently bought flowerpots off a stranger to check and see if they may be the same ones - and return them to the resting place of the mother-of-five.

“Maybe someone has got them outside the front of their house after buying them off someone and they don’t know where they came from,” added Ms Halfpenny.

“I would ask them to please hand them back.

 “When we put them there we never thought anything would go missing in a cemetery and to think they were taken really hurts us.”

Cllr Clyde Loakes, deputy leader and cabinet member for the environment said: “The cemetery manager spoke to the resident about the theft and her concerns. He reported the theft to the local police and our Waltham Forest neighbourhoods’ team.  

“Chingford Mount Cemetery is an open space with a public right of way. We rely on the police and neighbourhood teams to help us patrol the site.  

“Anti-social behaviour such as theft and vandalism in a cemetery shows a complete lack of care or respect not just for those buried there, but also their families.

"I strongly encourage anyone who sees anti-social behaviour in the cemetery to report it to both the council and the police 101 line. If people use this line, it highlights any issues and resources will be diverted to the area.”