Cape Town – Two suspected grave robbers are behind bars after they were caught in the act at the Klip Road Cemetery on Monday.
Cops say the criminals, who wore reflector bibs in an attempt to deceive the public into believing they are council workers, have been wreaking havoc at the cemetery, stealing flowers and desecrating graves.
The stolen flowers are sold to the unsuspecting public.
Grassy Park Station commander Colonel Dawood Laing says following complaints of theft from the public and the staff at the cemetery, cops went to do some digging.
“People weren’t opening up cases for stolen flowers, but the public was outraged because people going to the cemetery to honour their loved ones by decorating graves with flowers would then find that these criminals are stealing the flowers off the graves and reselling it on the road,” says Laing.
“The manager came to the police station and she asked for help, saying the public were very distressed at the thefts.”
He says while the police suspect there is a large group of men behind the thefts, two suspects who entered the cemetery on Monday made a grave mistake when they crossed paths with Captain Ashley Petersen and his team.
“Captain Petersen and his team spotted the two men and went into the cemetery,” explains Laing.
“They watched them for a while and the men were seen with spades and trolleys, but when they saw the officers, they went to hide and even lay on the ground among the graves like they were dead.
“But they almost got the scare of their lives when they saw the cops were right behind them.”
Laing says while the men, aged 34 and 25, had been prevented from stealing anything due to the presence of the police, they were arrested for trespassing and will appear in the Wynberg Magistrates’ Court today.
“The theft of flowers may seem like a petty offence, but the disrespect shown by these men is intolerable. You must be the lowest of the low to steal from dead people.
“They also like to target the cemetery on a Sunday when most people put fresh flowers on the graves or just after a funeral.
“This type of theft is disgraceful and we call on the public to expose these people.”
Mayco Member for Community Services Zahid Badroodien adds: “There is no respect and I support the call for information.
“Klip Road Cemetery has also been hit by thieves who continually steal the fencing which has to be replaced.”