DEVASTATED families are appealing of the return of items stolen from the graves of their loved ones at Dawlish Cemetery.

At least two graves have been targeted with personal items and Christmas decorations taken.

The thefts have shocked the families and the wider Dawlish community describing it as ‘despicable, wicked and cruel’.

Police say they are aware of the ‘concerns’ of items being taken from graves and have asked for anyone affected to report suspected thefts.

Martine Williams said she was ‘devastated’ to discover a Christmas tree and a cherub angel had been taken from her father Terence Francis’ grave over several days.

She said: ‘We are not the only family to have felt the devastation of this recently.

‘My mum placed a Christmas tree and some stake ornaments and all of these have been taken along with a cherub angel that was a present when our dad was alive.’

She appealed for information and for whoever took them, to return them.

The grave of teenager Rowdy Blackwell was also targeted.

A well-known local footballer, Rowdy was killed aged 19 in a car accident in 2001.

His family have also been devastated by the thefts.

His sister said: ‘Someone has stolen the majority of my brother’s Christmas decorations from his grave.

‘Most are years old and hold great sentimental value to our family, in particular my mum Maria.’

She asked for anyone who saw anything to report it to the police or if anyone finds the decorations dumped.

She also said if it was someone who couldn’t afford their own decorations, she would buy some herself.

But she appealed for Rowdy’s to be returned.

A police spokesman said: ‘We are aware of concerns of items being removed from Dawlish Cemetery.

‘We have contacted Teignbridge Council who manage the site, they are aware of the reports and no items have been removed by their ground staff.

‘We are therefore asking people to report any incident of suspected theft to us.

‘A concrete angel statue and a Christmas tree were taken some time between 13 November and 12 December.

‘We will actively check the area as often as possible going forward but the more information we can collate the better we can target out efforts.’

They are appealing for witnesses and ansking for anyone with information to contact them.

Contact police online or via telephone on 101, quoting crime reference 50230322887.