August 9, 2008

Community in Shock at War Plaque Thefts

By Peter Collins

FOUR plaques commemorating men who gave their lives in both world wars have been stolen.

Thieves unscrewed the copper plaques from the cenotaph in ancient woodland at Dyffryn Gardens, in Mountain Ash.

Police suspect they were stolen to order by a criminal gang, in the latest of a series of thefts of copper and other metals which have increased in value in recent months.

The raid on Thursday night has sparked calls for increased police patrols around similar memorials and for residents to be on the lookout for gangs looking to steal metal.

Councillor Pauline Jarman, pictured, Plaid leader at Rhondda Cynon Taf council, who lives close to the memorial site, said the community was in shock. "A resident asked me if the council had removed the plaques for cleaning. I went down there and realised they had been stolen," she said.

"They were works of art, sculptures that depicted the fallen in both world wars. They were part of the cenotaph at Dyffryn Woods, which is the jewel in the crown of Mountain Ash. It is just yards away from the Gorsedd Circle.

"People are very upset. The community is in shock, It was a very mean act. I don't think anybody in this community would do such a thing. I suspect an organised criminal gang is responsible who have stolen the plaque for the copper.

"Recently we have had drains and cables stolen."

The council is now looking to replace the plaques and stepping up security around memorials in the area. Coun Jarman said: "I have also asked that scrap metal merchants are alerted."

Plaid Cymru AM Chris Franks said: "This is a despicable crime. It is up to our communities to be alert to such criminals and for police to give this sort of crime special priority.

It is a sad reflection on today's society."

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