Thief returns memorial statue stolen from town funeral home
A grieving family say a thief has returned a memorial stolen from a garden of remembrance.
The concrete figure of a Subaru Impreza car was stolen from Ashby Funeral Care on Ashby High Street last month.
It was bought by grieving friend, Bill Barlow, to give to the family of David Houghton, 34, who died in Scunthorpe's Lindsey Lodge Hospice in March after a battle with cancer.
The family were left devastated when the statue was stolen – but have been taken aback at its return.
Mr Houghton's brother Wayne, from Broughton, said: "We were very surprised and shocked when we heard that the statue had been returned.
"It is good to know that the thief has a conscience and decided to bring it back, but the whole incident has been very upsetting.
"It has been a hard few months and we were starting to get our lives back on track until this incident happened."
Sue Maclean, manager of Ashby Funeral Care, found the statue when she was showing a family around the memorial garden. She said: "I was shocked to see the statue in exactly the same place it was stolen from."
Mrs Maclean said the statue had suffered damage to the front and looked like it had been dropped. She said: "It is an insult to the bereaved family that the statue is damaged.
"The whole incident is deeply disturbing."
Mrs Maclean said Ashby Funeral Care had recently paid for Mr Barlow to travel up from Wales with a new statue to replace the stolen one.
She said: "Sadly, it was returned too late.
"Had it been returned last week, we could have saved that poor family a journey from Wales. I urge the thief to step forward and apologise to this family for the stress and upset caused.
"I urge the members of the public to keep a close eye in memorial areas, cemeteries and report any suspicious behaviour to the police.
"I also hope that if a prosecution does take place relating to a theft from a deceased resting place, the justice system in this country steps up and issues a custodial sentence no matter what the reason for the theft or if it is a first offence."
Mr Houghton's family is now considering taking one of the statues to Brandy Wharf, where David used to like spending his time.
Sargent James Main, of Humberside Police, said: "Any offence can cause upset to the victim, but thefts from grave yards and memorial areas carry that much more distress.
"I am pleased those responsible have at least returned the item but it is a great shame they did not think about the distress they caused before taking it in the first place."