Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council has said it’s working with the police in a bid to improve security at local cemeteries.
The move comes following a spate of thefts from vehicles parked in Carnmoney Cemetery and Ballyclare Cemetery over recent months.
Heartless criminals have been specifically targeting people while they have been visiting their loved ones’ graves.
The latest incident occurred at Carnmoney Cemetery on Sunday afternoon (May 8) when a woman stole a pensioner’s handbag.
At around 1pm a woman aged in her 70s was getting bags out of her car at the cemetery when a woman aged in her 20s made off with her tan coloured handbag. The bag contained money, a mobile phone, vouchers and bank cards.
The woman who stole the bag got into a beige coloured car with Republic of Ireland registration plates. An older woman and two children were also in this car.
Sunday’s theft is the latest in a series of similar incidents over recent months, and police have urged people visiting local cemeteries to be vigilant.
In October last year, heartless thieves stole a 97-year-old woman’s handbag while she visited her daughter-in-law’s grave at Carnmoney Cemetery East.
Her 73-year-old son spoke out about the sickening crime after hearing that a similar incident had happened at Ballyclare Cemetery just days earlier.
A number of thefts from parked cars were also reported at the two local cemeteries in March and April this year, sparking calls for increased security at both sites.
Responding to the latest incident, a council spokesperson said: “Following a number of thefts from vehicles at Carnmoney and Ballyclare cemeteries, council has increased the Borough Warden patrols at these sites and has been working closely with the PSNI to increase their patrols in the area.
“Council would encourage anyone visiting the cemeteries to lock their vehicles and keep all valuables out of sight.”
A PSNI spokesperson appealed for anyone with information about any of the recent thefts to contact officers at Newtownabbey Police Station on the non-emergency number 101, or to call the Crimestoppers charity anonymously on 0800 555 111.