Shock at the theft of brass plaques from graves in a village churchyard has prompted the offer of a reward to catch the thieves.
The plaques - marking the graves of 52 local people - were stolen from St Margaret’s Church in West Hoathly last week after being levered off a wall.
Other plaques – attached to terrace walls at the church where people’s ashes have been buried for more than 100 years – were left damaged.
News of the theft - condemned by police as a ‘callous act’ - so angered a local businessman that he has now come forward offering a reward of £500 for information which leads to the conviction of those responsible.
The man - who does not want to be named - described the thieves as ‘despicable low life.’
He said his wife had died eight years ago and he understood the pain that the theft of the plaques would have caused to the families of those buried in the churchyard.
The theft itself was discovered by parish priest the Rev Nicol Kinrade who said the whole community was ‘in a state of shock’ because of what happened.
And 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.”