POLICE are treating thefts at a cemetery in the Bradford district “very seriously”, they have said.

Officers have been made aware of a number of thefts which have occurred at Ilkley Cemetery over recent days.

One local councillor described the thefts as "deplorable" and showed direspect to those buried in the cemetery and their families.

They are now urging any potential witnesses to come forward.

Sgt Shaun Leeson, Ilkley Ward Sergeant, said: “These crimes understandably have had a profound impact on the families who visit the graves of their loved ones. The offences appear to have targeted different and unrelated graves.

“We are treating these incidents very seriously and, since the initial reports, have deployed officers on both high visibility and plain clothes patrols, at varying times of the day and night.

“This is in an attempt to both prevent further offences and identify a suspect.

“I would urge anyone with information to contact us or if anyone witnesses any suspicious activity or any offences in progress to contact us on 999.”

Ilkley town councillor Mike Gibbons described the thefts as “deplorable” and urged anyone with information to contact the police.

“I deplore this desecration of Ilkley Cemetery”, he said.

“As this appears to be a sustained series of thefts, I would hope that more can be done in terms of surveillance and security.

“Each of these incidents disrespects not only the person who is buried there, but also the families and friends of that person.

“I hope that people, along with the police, will keep a careful watch and notify the authorities if they suspect any irregular activity in the area.”

West Yorkshire Police was later approached for more information - regarding how many thefts took place exactly, and what was stolen - but has not responded as of yet.

Anyone who has information on the thefts, or has seen anything suspicious in the area over recent days, is asked to contact police on 101, or at westyorkshire.police.uk/101livechat.

Crimestoppers can also be contacted, anonymously, on 0800555111.

Anyone with information must quote crime reference number 13220244011.