Mourners demand CCTV in Honiton

Thief still preying on flowers left on graves.

CCTV would not be intrusive say mourners who want camera technology used to catch a thief who has been preying on graves.

Hundreds of flowers have been stolen from St Michael’s churchyard, in Honiton, over a prolonged period.

Pc Ian Atyeo told a meeting of Honiton Town Council that CCTV was deemed “too intrusive for mourners” visiting the churchyard.

But, after reading his comments in the Midweek Herald last week, those with late loved ones buried at the churchyard came forward to say: “We would welcome CCTV – if it helps to identify the culprit.”

One woman, who is considering camping in a field close to graves in a bid to catch the thief in the act, said she no longer wants to be buried at the churchyard when she dies because of the thefts and would be changing her will to specify an alternative arrangement.

The Midweek Herald passed on readers’ views to Sergeant Martin Burrow, who responded by pointing out the practical problems of using CCTV at the churchyard.

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“CCTV can, and will, be considered but is not always the all-singing solution that it first appears to be,” he said.

“But who is going to provide it and pay for it””

Sergeant Burrow pointed out that four CCTV cameras covering the town centre were largely paid for by the town council and cost �10,000 and several years to set up.

Even if CCTV was made available, other problems were likely to be encountered.

“If, for example, the flowers were placed at 7pm on Wednesday evening and on the mourners’ next visit, at 7pm on Thursday, they are missing that is then 24hous of CCTV footage that has to be viewed,” explained Sergeant Burrow.

“This can clearly take some time and, although we can and we do review CCTV to investigate crime, there is a limitation as to the time we can spend doing so.”

A further problem with using CCTV at the churchyard is lack of lighting at night.

Sergeant Burrow said lighting would have to be installed or infra-red cameras used.