Families in the North Mainland were horrified to visit Brae graveyard and discover smashed ornaments and scattered flowers.
In one case mementoes had been removed from the grave of a child. Police are investigating and have identified two children who they believe are responsible.
The incident has appalled the victims – families who have already suffered the loss of loved ones and are now suffering again.
Kevin Laurenson’s wife Audrey died in June last year. He was one of the first to witness the damage in the graveyard, having been alerted to it on Saturday morning.
He discovered flowers had been taken out of vases and strewn around.
“Some of those heavy duty vases that stick into the ground, they were pulled… out and they were just lying all over the place,” he said. “Some of the love heart stones you get with messages on them – there were some of them that were been shifted, and some of them were been broken.”
Two ornaments had been removed from Audrey’s grave, and a third – a glass dome – had been “smashed along the face of the headstone”, claimed Mr Laurenson.
Though it wasn’t clear exactly when the damage had been done, Mr Laurenson assumes that it had happened last Friday night. He reported the incident to the police, and was interviewed shortly afterwards.
Brydon Mouat also visited the cemetery on Saturday, and found that his family had not escaped the damage either.
Engraved stones had been smashed from his grandparents’ grave – one of which was replaced in pieces. From his grand-uncle’s grave a stone heart was removed, broken, and half of it set back in place.
Mr Mouat said that he was “very angry” about what had happened. “They must have something better to do than go and ruin people’s graves” he said. “What I want to say to them … would not really be very appropriate for the paper, to be honest”, he added.
Another grave to be affected was that of Aaron McGowan. Aaron was eight when he lost his life in a tragic accident 19 years ago. Friends and family members left trinkets and mementoes at his graveside in remembrance, some
of which had been in place since Aaron was buried.
Earlier this week his mum Ann and sisters Grace and Emma discovered that every item had disappeared.
Emma spoke on behalf of the family: “We feel disgusted and are saddened that someone could do such a thing in a place that’s supposed to be about peace. Loss is difficult enough to come to terms with, and such a cruel crime makes it harder.
“We would just ask that anyone who might have seen something or knows anything comes forward with information”.
Police Scotland confirmed yesterday afternoon that they were conducting inquires into the suspected theft and vandalism. They also stated that “Two children have been identified as being responsible for minor damage to the grave stones”. The children will now be referred to the children’s reporter.
Despite having identified those they believe are responsible, police are still looking for anyone with information about the incident to contact Lerwick Police station on 101 or anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.