Efforts to protect war memorial plaques from thieves

A Budleigh Salterton man is spearheading local efforts in a cutting edge nationwide campaign to combat the theft of metal plaques from war memorials across the country.

David Jackson, of East Budleigh Road, is the Devon representative of the War Memorial Trust, a charity dedicated to protecting and conserving war memorials and provides grants to assist with their repair.

The charity is appealing to the custodians of war memorials across the county to sign up to the ‘In Memoriam 2014 project’, which is using state of the art technology to protect them from thieves.

It follows a spate of thefts of plaques and railings as a result of the rising cost of some metals.

Earlier last month thieves targeted the Carshalton War Memorial in Sutton, tearing down 14 individual brass plaques put up in 1921 and featuring the names of more than 240 local men killed in the First World War. The plaques were worth less than �50.

The result, say the trust, is Smartwater; a ‘forensic solution’ which contains a unique chemical code and is only visible under ultraviolet light.

Once applied the solution is virtually impossible to remove and can withstand burning or melting making it hard for criminals to sell metal stolen from war memorials.

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The war memorials trust has 150 regional volunteers and Mr Jackson said: “The war memorials in our area offer an important insight into our military and social history.

“They remember those from this area who have given their lives for their country. A theft from a war memorial is an attack on the memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice. I welcome the In Memoriam 2014 project and its aim to protect war memorials with the application of Smartwater.”

? If you would like to donate or join the charity go to :www.warmemorials.org.