MORE than 20 headstones were damaged by vandals in a single night causing £9,000-worth of damage.

The gravestones in Linthorpe Cemetery, Middlesbrough were pushed over or cracked between Thursday 25 and Friday, April 25 and 26.

Some of the gravestones were over 100 years old and Cleveland Police said vandalism at the cemetery has been a problem for some time.

Sgt Graeme Reilly, part of the force’s neighbourhood policing team, said: “We’re working very closely with the local authority and we also have officers going into local schools to talk to staff to see if they have heard anything. I believe they will also talk about this issue in assemblies in a bid to get the message across to young people that such damage will not be tolerated.”

Coun Nicky Walker, Middlesbrough Borough Council’s Executive Member for Environment, said: “There can be no excuse for any act of vandalism, but to target gravestones in a cemetery is beneath contempt.

“With support from the Heritage Lottery fund we have invested heavily in improving standards at Linthorpe Cemetery which is also a designated nature reserve.”

In a separate incident, one grave, not the actual headstone, in the same cemetery has been targeted three times, between Saturday, April 20 and Monday, April 29.

Anyone with information is asked to contact PC Mickey Sander of the Neighbourhood Policing Team on the non-emergency number 101. Alternatively, please contact the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800-555-111.