TWO Emerald sisters are distressed and angered after repeatedly falling victim to a disturbing practice at the Emerald Lawn Cemetery.
Dianne Quinn and her sister Juilene Jones are exasperated after continually returning to their mother's, father's and husbands' graves only to discover their flowers and lovingly placed trinkets stolen.
"It's been happening for at least 12 months now," Juilene said.
"You just lose faith in humanity. It's disrespectful to both those buried and those who are left behind that loved them."
Dianne said at least four times in recent months she had returned to the sites to find bouquets of artificial flowers and, on one occasion, white angel statues, gone.
She said it was becoming increasingly distressing to discover, as neither she nor her sister wanted others to think their deceased family members had no loved ones.
Juilene lost her husband to cancer in 2009. Five years beforehand, in June, 2004, her sister Dianne lost her husband Jeffrey to cancer as well.
On June 24, 2010, their mother Norma Barry died, and nine months later, in April, 2011, their father Lindsey Barry followed.
Lindsey now rests next to his wife and within metres of his two son-in-laws at the Emerald Lawn Cemetery.
The sisters said the latest theft was the last straw.
"This last time I was just gutted, I sat down on (my husbands) grave and just cried and cried and cried," Juilene said.
"Apart from the emotional hurt there is also a monetary cost in having to replace them. To get a nice bunch of flowers it costs about $50 per grave every time. Eventually that starts to add up."
Dianne said the theft was becoming ridiculous, with the pain and anger brewing stronger each time it recurred. "It was happening to mum's grave before dad died, but we couldn't bring ourselves to tell him because it was something he shouldn't have to deal with, it's something no one should have to deal with," Dianne said.
"They usually leave the terracotta pot and will just pinch the bunch of artificial flowers from the sand.
"It's definitely not the wind because mum and dad are next to each other, and often mum's flowers will be gone and dad's will be untouched.
"Sometimes we've found that only the good ones have been taken away, and the not so good ones left there.
"People need to be aware that people are doing this out there, and if it's happening to them that it's not only them it's happening to."
Juilene had a message for the culprits: "Have a think. Think how you would feel if that was your mother, and each time you went to her grave someone had stolen something from her.
"How you would feel? Put yourself in my shoes."
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