We are investigating the theft of 52 brass memorial plaques from the graveyard at St Margaret of Antioch's Church, West Hoathly, near East Grinstead.
The theft was discovered on Wednesday morning (14 August) and has left the local community devastated.
Each plaque, measuring approximately 12 inches x six inches, was torn from a stone wall and each marked a plot where cremated ashes of loved ones had been interred.
Police Community Support Officer Daryl Holter, a heritage crime officer with Sussex Police, said: " This not only involves metal theft, but the stealing of families' personal memories of loved ones. It was an utterly callous act showing not a shred of respect for the dead."
The priest-in-charge at St Margaret's, the Reverend Nicol Kinrade, added: "This is very distressing for the relatives and for the Church. The scrap value of the metal will be nothing in comparison to the hurt this will cause people."
Anyone who saw any suspicious activity in the area or who may have information about the thefts or those responsible is asked to contact police online or by phoning 101, quoting serial 470 of 14/08.
Alternatively they can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously, telephone 0800 555 111.
Author: Nigel Jarrett
Ref: SXP 55225/2019
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