Mother's heartache: Personal mementos stolen from Lincoln grave
The devastating death of her son in 2001 is something Joan Caine will never come to terms with.
But over the years, she has taken some comfort from tending window cleaner Tommy's grave in Newport Cemetery, Lincoln.
Now the 75-year-old great grandmother's world has been turned upside down after she discovered personal mementos missing from the plot.
"Tommy died of gross cirrhosis of the liver on December 13, 2001 and he was only 39," said Ms Caine, of Ravendale Drive, Ermine, Lincoln, and a former ward orderly at Lincoln County Hospital.
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"He loved cats and so I placed a 12 inch long by 6 inch high stone ornament of a grey and brown cat on his grave.
"Its face looked up as if to say to anyone who visited: 'Are you coming to visit my Tommy?'.
"When I noticed it had gone missing it was like losing Tommy all over again. The only time I will ever get over Tommy's death will be when he holds me in his arms in heaven." Ms Caine reported the theft to police on September 16 after she noticed a teddy bear had also gone missing after the cat disappeared.
The bear tribute had been placed at the graveside by one of her son's friends, who has since died.
"Everything that has happened has made me so sad," Ms Caine.
The number of heartbreaking thefts from gravestones in Lincolnshire is rising.
Lincolnshire Police figures show three thefts from graves between January and December last year, compared to six between January and August.
But the problem appears more widespread, with items even being stolen from the graves of babies and children.
The City of Lincoln Council has confirmed all of its cemeteries are locked at night.
It does not have a policy preventing people from leaving items on burial plots.
Lincolnshire Police is investigating the thefts from Tommy Caine's grave.
Anyone with information is asked to call 101 quoting reference 278 of September 16.