GRIEVING families making trips to a cemetery have been left reeling after cruel thieves stole multiple sentimental items - prompting South Yorkshire Police to launch an investigation.

Thieves struck at Monk Bretton’s cemetery last weekend when a stone angel and memorial bench were taken from the site.

The family of Fidelity Brown were shocked to discover the angel headstone on her grave site had been taken when they visited the cemetery.

Her family had installed the headstone on the anniversary of her death from pulmonary heart disease, lupus and kidney failure in 2014 as a way to remember their loved one.

“My niece rung me up and asked if we had moved the angel,” said Fidelity’s sister, Sarah Brown, 28. “When we said we hadn’t, we all went down there to find that the angel was nowhere to be found.

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“We all searched the graveyard and asked in the nearby pub and at the house on the grounds and no-one had CCTV or could give us any information. We couldn’t believe that someone would stoop so low and steal from a grave.”

Sarah said she was close with her older sister who died aged 36 and that the theft has left the family reliving their grief.

“I always take some time around the anniversary of her death because I don’t think losing your sister is something you will ever get over,” added Sarah, of Lang Avenue, Lundwood. “This has brought it all back to us and has left me and my mum really upset.

“I hate the thought that someone stepped over her to get to the angel and then took it without thinking of the pain it would cause our family.

“Fidelity had a heart of gold and loved everyone she met. When she was really ill and I had my son, she would come and visit me in the hospital so she got to hold her nephew. The person who took from her grave didn’t know who she was and just saw something they wanted and didn’t think about anyone else.”

Sarah made an emotional appeal on social media for the angel to be returned, and said she has been overwhelmed with kindness and has since received offers of a donation of a new angel to go on Fidelity’s grave site.

Sarah also wants to campaign for CCTV to be installed in the cemetery to prevent further thefts from happening.

“I would like to thank the people who have offered to donate a new angel,” said Sarah. “My mum has been in bits these past few days and it means the world to her that there are still kind people out there.

“I don’t want another family to go through what we have, and I want CCTV to be installed around the site so that if anything does go missing, they can find who did it.”

Coun Chris Lamb, cabinet spokesperson for environment and transport, said: “We’re extremely saddened to hear of numerous thefts at Monk Bretton cemetery, including items like ornaments and keepsakes. It’s very sad that a small minority of people think that this kind of behaviour is acceptable.

“I urge the public to be vigilant and report any thefts or information to the police.”

Barnsley Central MP, Dan Jarvis has supported the Brown family after the theft.

He said: “I am shocked and appalled to hear about the theft of a headstone from Monk Bretton Cemetery. My thoughts are with Fidelity Brown’s family and my office and I will continue to suppor them at this difficult and upsetting time.”