Police probe Essex Holocaust memorial metal theft

Metal thieves in Harlow have stolen a plaque commemorating the victims of the Holocaust.

Police are investigating who was behind the theft of the 18 inch square bronze memorial plaque honouring those who were killed by the Nazis between 1933 and 1945.

The plaque, which had been in the town's remembrance garden since 2001, was prised out of a paving slab by the thieves. It had also been dedicated to "all peoples of the world who have suffered persecution or been victims of atrocities or genocide".

The council said its replacement would be made of granite to deter thieves.

Bronze thefts have been on the rise in recent months due to a boom in the price of scrap metal. Earlier this month a Barbara Hepworth statue was stolen in Dulwich Park, while last June a plaque celebrating the heroism of MI6 agent Major Frank Foley, who saved thousands of Jews during the Holocaust, was stolen from the Somerset town he lived in.

Harlow Council leader Andrew Johnson called for a deterrent to stop "what is a deeply disturbing trend" and said there should be tighter regulation for the scrap business.

"People who are prepared to steal a plaque honouring the Jewish victims of Nazi persecution are clearly without conscience," he said. "They are unlikely to be intimidated by a minor fine."

    Last updated: 1:09pm, December 29 2011