Anger as Birches Head memorial benches are wrecked by thieves
MEMORIAL benches have been targeted by vandals in an attempt to steal metal for re-sale.
Two wooden benches installed at Birches Head Bowls Club, in Birches Head, were chopped up by the offenders who tried to get their hands on the metal brackets.
The benches were left in pieces at the Birches Head Road club after the vandals failed in their attempt.
It is thought they were disturbed and made their escape on Tuesday night.
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Club green keeper Tony Porter discovered the benches strewn over the green, which is behind the Birches Head Hotel, when he arrived at the club yesterday morning. The 59-year-old said: "The benches are very heavy and it seems like someone has sawn them in half to try and get to the metal.
"When I got there, it looked as if the wood had been dragged across the green but it was just left there.
"It's a shame, because those benches have been at the club for a long time.
"We are having a large metal stand built in a corner of the green where people will be able to sit during the summer.
"It seems to me as if the people who did this came with the intention of stealing the metal from the stand but couldn't because it is fixed in with concrete."
Mr Porter, of Gleneagles Crescent, Birches Head, believes there has been an increase in anti-social behaviour in the area since the closure of the Birches Head Hotel.
The hotel has remained closed since May, after a deep fat fryer started a blaze at the building.
Mr Porter added: "Over the past six months there has been a lot of different things going on up there.
"It has become a place for gangs to congregate and now this has happened.
"We try to keep the bowling green well-maintained for the people who use it but now we are going to need some more wood to re-build the benches because it has been damaged.
"We will fix them into the stand once it is finished and hopefully, it won't happen again."
Mr Porter's 59-year-old wife, Lynne added: "We just can't believe it.
"People donated those benches in memory of their loved ones who were past members of the club and now they have been destroyed."
A spokesman for Staffordshire Police said: "We received a call at 10.15am yesterday morning reporting an incident at the bowling green next to the Birches Head Hotel.
"Between 5pm on Monday and 9.30am yesterday, offenders attempted to steal metal from the memorial benches using an unknown instrument.
"It is thought the offenders were disturbed as they left without taking any metal, but damage has been done to the benches.
"Officers have given advice and reassurance to the person who reported the crime."
Staffordshire Police has now launched an appeal for witnesses following the incident.
The police spokesman added: "We would urge anyone who may have any information regarding the incident, or who may have seen any suspicious activity prior to the incident, to contact us on 101 quoting incident number 167 of October 16.
"Alternatively, people should contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111."