A GRIEVING family whose loved one’s headstone was vandalised have suffered further heartache after treasured valuables were stolen from his grave.

Last week, The Gazette told how Tom Steele’s headstone was vandalised with paint only a few weeks after his ashes were interred in the family plot at Abbey Cemetery, Elderslie.

And, in a separate incident, £300 worth of artefacts, including a granite flower vase and photograph plaque, were stolen.

Douglas Steele, Tom’s older brother, said he discovered the theft when he went to the grave to leave flowers.

He believes it would have needed two people to remove the heavy vase, which was put there in 1986 in memory of his late parents.

The granite plaque with engraved photographs of his parents and two other family members had been there for the past decade.

Retired lorry driver Douglas, 73, has reported the theft to the police, who are already investigating the senseless vandalism.

“I felt sick when I saw the vase and photograph were missing after sitting there for all these years,” said Douglas, who is originally from Johnstone but now lives in Ayr.

“The vase had been there for more than 30 years and I go to the grave every three or four weeks to pay my respects and put in new flowers.

“It could have been the same person who painted over Tom’s name on the stone. However, it would have taken two people to lift the vase and they would have needed a van or car to carry it away.

“Both the granite vase and the photograph plaque are worth around £300 but are really irreplaceable.

“As soon as I saw they were missing, I went straight to the police in Johnstone.”

Six family members, including parents Margaret and John, have been laid to rest in the same plot.

Tom’s ashes, which are in a casket, are the most recent addition following his funeral on December 23.

His family have been told it will cost several hundred pounds to have the paint removed and the stone restored.

No other headstones in the cemetery were damaged and no other items have been stolen from graves.

It is thought the theft and vandalism could be the work of someone who has a grudge against the Steele family, who are all from Johnstone.

Tom, who had cerebral palsy, was one of 10 siblings. He died in hospital after collapsing in a bank.

A police spokesperson said: “Enquiries are ongoing into the theft of items from a grave at Abbey Cemetery.”