Indecent exposure, theft and assault - all happening in Wigan cemeteries

The graves of Carly Fairhurst and Riley McMichael have had solar lights stolen from the gravesides, pictured are parents Lisa McMichael, mother of Riley and Sheila and Trevor Fairhurst at the graves in Hindley Cemetery
The graves of Carly Fairhurst and Riley McMichael have had solar lights stolen from the gravesides, pictured are parents Lisa McMichael, mother of Riley and Sheila and Trevor Fairhurst at the graves in Hindley Cemetery
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PEOPLE indecently exposing themselves, assaults and stealing bikes are just some of the crimes committed on sacred ground in Wigan.

A total of 80 call-outs have occurred around churches and cemeteries so far this year, which already shows a fall from 2014.

As a force we take all criminality seriously and will bring offenders to justice for their crimes

DCI Michael Fraser

Of the 24 crimes recorded between January to May, there have been two acts of exposure and two assaults - one causing actual bodily harm, while the other is being classed as battery.

Churches are seen as easy targets for thieves, with three burglaries or attempted burglaries and nine thefts, including one offender stealing a bike.

Graffiti artists and vandals have also been on a wrecking spree, with eight acts of criminal damage causing repairs totalling £5,000.

Many of these acts have caused upset as yobs have trashed graves of loved ones.

Intruders stole solar lamps decorating the final resting places of baby Riley McMichael and domestic violence victim Carly Fairhurst at Hindley’s Castle Hill Cemetery.

And Jim Gaskell, of Worsley Mesnes, was distraught when his mother-in-law’s grave was trashed by intruders at St Paul’s cemetery in Goose

Green.

The louts ripped £50 worth of flowers from their bed and took a special Me 2 You teddy bear.

Some of the call outs which have not been recorded as crimes include rowdy and inconsiderate behaviour, reports of someone acting suspiciously, a civil dispute and a concern for safety of a youngster under 18.

According to figures from Greater Manchester Police (GMP), released under Freedom of Information rules, the number of criminal acts on church grounds has fallen, from 101 in 2012 to just 71 last year.

Det Chief Insp Michael Fraser, from GMP’s Wigan Division, said: “The neighbourhood policing teams actively increase patrols in areas where we know there is a risk of antisocial behaviour. It is pleasing to see this hard work pay off through a reduction in this crime which often causes heartache for families.

“As a force we take all criminality seriously and will bring offenders to justice for their crimes. If you see any suspicious behaviour or to report a crime to police dial 101. Always dial 999 where there is a threat to life or a crime in progress.”