Local police arrested a woman caught on CCTV for allegedly stealing items from a child's grave at the Rippleside Cemetery, located in Barking, Essex, a London suburb.
BBC News reported a 71-year-old woman pleaded guilty in connection with the theft after her daughter recognized the photos being circulated in the media.
According to the Barking and Dagenham Post, family members noticed items taken from a young family member's gravesite for the past 18 months; the boy had died at age 11 after a devastating car accident in 1980.
Steve Rose, 37, was six-years-old when his cousin, Robert, died. Rose said, “My aunt, who died two years ago, never got over it. That’s why it’s such a terrible thing for us.” Robert's mother visited the grave once a week until her death at aged 81.
Both of the boy's parents are now buried next to his grave.
The family, distressed over the theft of flowers and ornaments from their loved one's grave, tried to kindly ask the thief to stop taking the flowers and other items by leaving messages at the gravesite, but the pleas went ignored by the bandit.
Rose said, “We have left signs asking they stop stealing but that didn’t deter them. It’s callous.”
In what has been described as a "last resort", Rose asked for, and received, permission to try and capture the thief on tape so the family could monitor Robert's grave. After placing a camera in a nearby tree, Rose has caught the individual responsible for the theft on camera taking flowers from his cousin's final resting place.
The Barking and Dagenham Post reported images recorded on Nov. 19 "seem to show a woman looking behind her, then kneeling at the grave before putting flower pots in a bag." Another image, taken on Oct. 29, appears to show a woman, of similar appearance, walk past the grave without stopping.
Rose had said after publicly releasing the images, "It’s such a terrible thing to do, just shocking,’ said the 37-year-old taxi driver. ‘It’s the last place we can go to remember my cousin and someone’s stealing from it. The plants don’t have much value, just a couple of quid each. If she wants them so much I’ll give her the money. Just stop stealing from a child’s grave.’
Manzanero's motive is not known, other than she was drawn to the flowers. BBC News report said, "Redbridge Magistrates' Court heard the pensioner suffered depression after her 40-year-old son killed himself."
The Guardian reported Kaushik Ramdhary, defense council, said the theft had been an "impulsive" one.
Ramdhary said, "On that day she went to visit relatives and on her way back she saw some beautiful flowers and put them in her bag. She is fond of flowers and on that particular day these flowers caught her eye. It was impulsive."
Manzanero would visit the cemetery frequently to visit her son's grave and, also that of her parents, who died after her son.
The Guardian reported yesterday Scotland Yard said, "Police do understand that thefts of this type are hugely distressing for relatives."
Rose had said he did not believe the theft is specifically attacked his family.
Across the pond, in a report last month out of Suffolk County, N.Y., reported families were heartbroken to learn bronze vases were being ripped up from their loved one's resting places. One theory is that the thieves are selling the metals.
Manzanero pled guilty to one count of theft and was ordered to pay £30 costs and compensation.