A family has been left distraught after heartless thieves targeted the grave of a popular Colne dad.
The relatives of William Dalzell (83), known affectionately as Irish Billy, are urging anybody with information to help “name and shame” the offenders.
Mr Dalzell’s daughter Janine noticed that a large quantity of black and green pebbles had been stolen from the Colne Cemetery plot early Sunday evening.
The pebbles, which had been shipped from Ireland in January to mark Mr Dalzell’s heritage, had cost around £300 for six 20kg bags, and had been paid for by numerous people, including Miss Dalzell’s sister Andrea and mum Betty. According to Miss Dalzell only a handful of pebbles are now left, and it is expected the thieves will have needed a car to carry the heavy load away.
The 43-year-old, of Carr Road, Colne, said: “I just burst out crying when I saw what had happened - I just didn’t know what to do and it was such a shock.
“I just can’t believe it, it’s disgusting and heartbreaking. I just can’t get my head around the fact somebody could steal from somebody’s grave.
“We don’t feel like we can relay them because it could happen again, and we had got it so lovely.
“If anybody knows anything they need to get in touch with somebody anonymously - we need to name and shame whoever is low enough to do such a thing. We don’t want this to happen to anybody else.”
Mr Dalzell, of Windsor Street, Colne, died last July following a battle with prostate cancer.
The former Smith and Nephew’s worker was said to be well-known and well-liked within the Colne community.
Police confirmed that they received a report following a theft at the cemetery, off Keighley Road, at 4pm on Sunday. They said the incident could have taken place between November 16th and November 30th, and are asking any witnesses to call 101 quoting reference number EG1401206.
Pendle Council’s deputy chief executive Philip Mousdale said: “We sympathise greatly with the family of Mr Dalzell who have had to deal with the upset of this despicable theft.
“We do advise relatives that if they place items on graves, they do so at their own risk. We ask our grounds maintenance staff and other staff who are present in the cemeteries from time to time to report anything untoward which they happen to see. But we simply cannot patrol our cemeteries all the time.
“If anyone saw anything suspicious around this particular grave in Colne Cemetery in the last few weeks, we ask them to get in touch with the local police.”