A FAMILY has been left heartbroken after cruel thieves appeared to have snatched a token of remembrance from a beloved relative’s final resting place.

Martin Burke, who was born in 1923 and died in 2002, is buried in Dovercourt Cemetery.

Martin’s granddaughter Jodie told The Standard that a bronze statue left at Martin’s grave was inexplicably taken at some point between Saturday, December 16 and Sunday, December 17.

Jodie said another family member alerted her to the statue’s absence following a visit to Martin’s resting place.

She added the statue had been at Martin's graveside for "many years".

Jodie said: "We are just disgusted that someone is going around looking at graves to steal from and that now what families did to find comfort, putting things on the graves, that’s now been taken away.

"Nobody in this day and age should have to visit graves to check nothing been stolen and I hope the person or people involved return it back to us." 

It is said the statue is quite heavy, meaning it was very unlikely to have blown away.

Jodie has now asked anyone who sees or receives the statue to return it to the family.

She added: “Times are hard, yes, but to steal off the dead is beyond disgusting, it’s sick and cruel. 

“Families are putting Christmas stuff on for their loved ones and shouldn’t have to worry things will be stolen.”

In the meantime, Jodie said she and her family were “touched” by kind gestures of strangers and praised members of the community for their thoughtfulness.

Some had even offered to pay for a replacement statue to be placed at the grave.

Jodie said: “Unfortunately the item isn’t available as it’s so old but the kindness was lovely.”

Damian Williams, corporate director for operations and delivery at Tendring  Council, said to steal from a grave was shocking behaviour.

“Any theft is intolerable, but to take something from a memorial to someone’s loved one is just terrible, especially at this time of year,” Mr Williams said.

“Our thoughts go out to the family affected by this.

“As a crime this is a police matter, and we will of course help with any investigation.

“Thankfully incidences of theft from our cemeteries are extremely rare, and we hope it stays this way.”