THE parents of a Kirkby soldier who was killed in Afghanistan have been forced to lock his memorial bench away after heartless metal thieves tried to steal it from Kingsway Cemtery.
The family of Rifleman Adrian Sheldon discovered that the bench dedicated to his memory had been unbolted from the ground and moved when visiting his grave at the Kirkby cemetery on 23rd December.
It is thought that the offenders must have been disturbed during the attempted theft, but the despicable act has left Adrian’s parents Mark and Diane, of Beulah Road, Kirkby, ‘distraught’.
Mark said that the attempted theft demonstrates the lack of respect and lack of thought from the thieves.
“I don’t think, for the scrap value of what it is, they realise the devastation it would cause,” he said.
“It’s not the monetary value - it’s the sentimental value.”
Adrian was killed in May 2009, aged 25, when the vehicle he was travelling in was struck by an explosive device in Sangin, Helmand Province.
The metal memorial bench has cast iron parts and brass plaques on it from the family and Adrian’s army regiment, 2nd Battalion The Rifles.
Said Mark: “My wife went up to the cemetery first thing in the morning like she normally does.
“I had gone up at 3pm and was going to call back again at night before they lock the cemetery gates.
“My brother got there after that and called me to ask if we had organised with the council to do anything to Adrian’s bench because it had been moved.
“We think they have done it just as darkness fell.”
The police and Ashfield District Council have been informed of the incident and a family friend helped the Sheldon’s move the bench.
“We have had to resort to putting it in the garage because of the metal thieves,” said Mark.
“We are going to have it modified and concreted back in the ground.”
Edd de Coverly, Ashfield District Council’s service director for economy, said: “It is appalling that items placed in a cemetery should be targeted by thieves, and it is particularly distressing that a seat in memory of Rifleman Sheldon has been moved.
“The council is in regular contact with the Sheldon family and is working with them to resolve this situation to their satisfaction.
“The cemetery is locked every night and the council is always looking at ways of keeping its cemeteries secure and attractive.
“We ask that visitors to the cemetery are vigilant and report any suspicious activity to either the police or the council.”