Sick grave robbers steal grieving family's Christmas decorations

Published: 20 Jan 2012 08:579 comments

A DUNFERMLINE family who put up a special Christmas tree in memory of their youngest son were left heartbroken after the decorations were stolen by callous thieves.

Val and Steve Murphy at son Ian's graveside.

Val and Steve Murphy at son Ian's graveside.

Val and Steve Murphy, of Bruce Gardens, were sickened by the "disgusting" theft of the trinkets, which were taken from son Ian's graveside in Douglas Bank Cemetery, Pattiesmuir.

Christmas lights, tinsel and one of five wreaths, which had also been decorated with special items, were also stolen.

Ian, a Fife Council sports coach, was just 22 when he lost his brave fight against cancer in August 2008 and his family have put up a tree over the Christmas period for the last four years as a memorial and tribute.

Each tree is decorated by family and friends and then gifted to a family member for replanting and decorating annually in their own garden.

The Murphys had placed the latest tree around 11th December and discovered the theft on 14th January, barely a week after their last visit.

Mum Val (52) said, "I was just shocked at the time but when I got home it was quite emotional.

"This is our way to involve Ian and a special way of keeping his spirit of Christmas alive.

"The tree was left in good condition as were the four other wreaths, leaving us to believe that the items had been very carefully and deliberately removed.

"There were lots of things that were still there and had not been touched.

"Had this happened before Christmas I would have thought they had been taken for their own tree but why now?"

Val also questioned why anyone would take the decorations, as they were specific to Ian.

She said, "There was a crystal robin, a Liverpool ball, items that said 'To a special son' or brother and there were messages attached to them.

"It's horrible - you know there's a risk attached to putting things out but this doesn't make it right.

"This has been a very upsetting experience and it beggars belief as to why some selfish, despicable human being would do this to us."

She said Ian had been the family's "Mr Christmas", adding, "He was the life and soul and would do Santa - he'd take his Nana round and deliver the presents to all the families.

"If someone could find it in their heart to return the decorations it would be wonderful."

Fife Council bereavement services manager Liz Murphy said all its cemeteries were public access but said such thefts were not an issue they had faced in recent years.

She added, "My advice is for people to be very careful with what personal and sentimental items they put out at gravesides.

"It's terrible that someone would do something like that. It's a rural site as well and you don't really expect that to happen."

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  • SirSided
    11 posts
    Jan 20, 11:27
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    I went to school with Smurf... whoever did this is absolute clown, Ian Murphy was a true gentleman and would never dream of vandalising or stealing from the deceased so whoever did this obviously did not know him.

    Has the recession really hit someone so bad thay they lower themselves to steal (YES

    steal) from a graveside? Pathetic!

    Recommend?   Yes 31     No 0

  • Calimero
    95 posts
    Jan 20, 13:36
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    To Val, Steve and family,

    I was shocked to read this article in the press yesterday and both saddened and sickened that someone would stoop so low as to steal from a grave. Ian was one in a million and I truly hope that whoever is responsible is shamed into putting the items back. My thoughts are with you all, take care, Maxine x x

    Recommend?   Yes 10     No 0

  • LainyPen
    2 posts
    Jan 20, 22:59
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    The cowards that took these personal items are disgusting. At least Liz Murphy's reply this time is a little more sensitive. When my daughters grave was robbed in Dunfermline the reply we recieved was not to place anything at the graveside!

    If Fife council stepped up and looked after their cemetries and respected the place then perhaps Ian's family would not have had to experiance this further heartbreak caused by these callous idoits.

    Recommend?   Yes 5     No 3

  • NellyD
    1 post
    Jan 21, 15:03
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    I have to say my heartfelt sympathies go out to the Murphy Family regarding the Items that went missing from their sons graveside. It's devastating to lose a loved one and when people choose to keep their resting place in a tidy and pleasant manner with memorabilia and keepsakes of those loved ones they should at least have the peace of mind they will find the display intact and still there when they return. This is nothing less than grave robbing and would have been punishable by death in times gone by. What kind of person goes to a cemetary and thinks to themselves "OH that's nice, I'll have that for my garden/patio etc"? It is disgusting and disrespectful and I hope whoever took these things is haunted by the fact that we may not know who they are but the whole of Fife knows they are Thieves!

    My family are buried in the cemetary in Cowdenbeath and I must say the cemetary is one of the best kept in the area, no matter what time of year I go up there it always looks beautiful and peaceful just the kind of place you'd want to be when your own time comes. That was until I went there recently with a relative who was visiting from Canada, there were several plots we wanted to visit that day and spent around an hour or so going round the various plots. During the time we were there I noticed several people up there with their dogs. The dogs were left to run around without a lead, running up and down the graves urinating and defacating on the plots and gravestones and much to my embarrassment our visitor actually STOOD in a pile of this filth! It was distressing to think that someone thought so little of the person under there that they didn't have the decency to bag and bin it! How would these people feel if it was their loved ones graves on the recieving end of this disrespectful act? I have complained to Fife Council before about this and was told they couldn't do anything unless they caught the dog owners in the act but why allow dogs in a cemetary in the first place?? Even if you do HAVE to take your dog (which to me is uncalled for) why not make sure the dog has done it's business Before you go in to the cemetary or at least make sure you have a bag with you to do what is required by law and pick it up?!!

    I feel that Fife Council should be doing more than they are to combat this type of blatant disrespect and could maybe use some of the funds they take in to install cameras to monitor our cemetarys instead of putting in stupid speed bumps that are neither use nor favour to anyone.

    I hope the person/s who stole the artefacts from Ian Murphy's graveside take note of this and when it's their time to be laid in the cemetary they get the plot nearest the Dog poo bin! ....

    Recommend?   Yes 16     No 0

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  • midge1
    69 posts
    Jan 21, 23:51
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    miles why the hurtful remark what nellyd said was true some people have no repect WHO IN THEIR RIGHT MIND TAKE A DOG TO A GRAVEYARD or even think of grave robbing

    Recommend?   Yes 15     No 6

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  • Ooosh!
    31 posts
    Jan 24, 09:51
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    ***** you may as well stop posting comments! You clearly have nothing good to say that EVERY single post you make gets removed, therefore one can assume you are of juvinile status or immature that everything you say must be derogatory.

    Recommend?   Yes 9     No 0

  • Ooosh!
    31 posts
    Jan 24, 13:46
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    This is to *****, judging by the time your posts are received you have nothing better to do than slander those who are giving open, honest and genuine responses to current affairs.

    Why dont you waste time on Facebook or Twitter and annoy people who might actually give a monkeys to what you have to say.

    Recommend?   Yes 7     No 0

  • NotHappyJan
    192 posts
    Jan 24, 20:24
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    Find them and shame them....disgusting!

    Recommend?   Yes 2     No 3

  • kaz3137
    1 post
    Jan 25, 18:44
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    just wanted to let you know that sadly this does not appear to be a lone incedent. We too had a xmas wreath stolen from our daughters grave at Douglas Bank. The wreath with solar lights was stolen some time between xmas eve and xmas morning. It seems that some people just have no respect at all, gravesides are no longer a sacred place. Think that maybe the council should do something more when it comes to looking after our loved ones resting places, it does not even cross your mind that someone would purposly take items from a graveside.

    For us it was even more heartbreaking as it was Bethany's first ever xmas. These people should come forward and return the stolen items, but as many of us know, this is unlikly to happen.

    Thoughts are with the family.

    Recommend?   Yes 7     No 0