(UPDATE: Oct. 9 @ 1:45 pm) - An official fund has been started by the City of West Kelowna to support families who were victims of a despicable September theft.
On Sept. 14, bronze markers were stolen from 55 memorial plots in the Westbank Cemetery.
Although most of the bronze markers were recovered, 19 of them were damaged beyond repair and the cost to replace them comes out of the families' pockets.
There was been plenty of talk about helping these families raise the money to repair their loved ones markers, which led the City to starting this fund.
Anyone interested in donating can do so in person at city hall or by mailing cash or a cheque to the 'City of West Kelowna Cemetery Memorial Replacement Fund' at 2760 Cameron Rd., West Kelowna, BC, V1Z 2T6.
"Families whose memorials must be replaced can apply to be reimbursed for a portion of their costs, depending on the donations received," said a statement from the City.
(UPDATE: Sept. 26 @ 11:10 am) - A number of the bronze plaques stolen from multiple Central Okanagan cemeteries.
Most of the publicity was directed towards the theft of 53 plaques from Westbank Cemetery, but RCMP were informed of similar thefts from sites in Kelowna and Lake Country as well.
There was plenty of public outrage, which led to a number of helpful tips being submitted to the West Kelowna RCMP.
On Sept. 25, "most of the stolen plaques" from the Westbank Cemetery were recovered by police, along with all of the plaques that were reported stolen from Kelowna.
Unfortunately, none of the stolen plaques from Lake Country have turned up yet.
"Officers found a large pile of bronze squares at the scene and it was evident that the suspect(s) had removed the names from some of the plaques and cut them into these small squares likely in preparation to turning them in for recycling processing," said a statement from the RCMP.
All recovered plaques have been returned to their respective cemeteries and the families affected are asked to contact the cemeteries involved to make further arrangements.
The RCMP are continuing their investigation into the threats and Cst. Lesley Smith says no arrests have been made at this time.
Anyone with information pertaining to these thefts is asked to call the RCMP at 250-762-3300.
You can also report tips anonymously to Crime Stoppers by calling 1-800-222-8477.
(Original story: Sept. 23 @ 11:15 am) - The community has expressed shock and anger over a crime committed at Westbank Cemetery last weekend.
Late in the evening of Saturday, Sept. 14, thieves allegedly cut the lock of the cemetery and stole the bronze markers from 53 plots.
The City of West Kelowna was informed about what it calls a “depraved act” on Monday, Sept. 16 and began to notify affected families.
"Although these families will be responsible for plaque replacement, the City is waiving its installation fee of approximately $300 for impacted families and has sourced reduced price options from suppliers,” said the City in a press release issued today.
“The City is encouraging families to consider options that are not attractive to thieves, like granite.”
On Saturday, Sept. 21, West Kelowna resident Sheila Smith Kennedy posted about the incident on Facebook.
Her post sparked understandable outrage, with much of it being directed at the fact that families would be responsible for much of the cost of replacing the plaques.
Security around the cemetery has been increased, says the City, and the cemetery’s security cameras are now being investigated as well.
Anyone with any information on this crime is asked to contact the West Kelowna RCMP at 250-768-2880.