LARGE stone slabs at Great Harwood’s Memorial Park have been removed for safe keeping after they were targeted by thieves.

The four foot by three foot slabs were lifted from around the cenotaph and placed in a pile ready to be loaded into a vehicle.

But they were spotted by one of the park’s visitors, who reported it to the council and the police.

Chair of Friends of Memorial Park, Ian Wilkinson, slammed the thieves, who have struck before.

He said: “There were some flags taken a few weeks ago and we reported it to the council and the police. It’s a sensitive area for people, and stealing from around the cenotaph is looked down on by a lot of people as not being very acceptable.

“Taking from around a cenotaph, which is there to remember people who fought in the war, is very offensive.”

The Friends of Memorial Park group works closely with the council and police, and several vandals have been caught in the past.

Ian said: “We are very grateful to the council for taking the slabs away and for the police, who may have suspicions as to who it may have been.”

The slabs will be replaced and others under a nearby memorial bench, which were loosened by the prospective thieves during the raid on Sunday, will be secured.

Independent councillor Ian Robinson reacted furiously to the news.

He said: “The thieves should be put on the town gate, handcuffed, and I will personally go down and flog them.

“It should be a name and shame when we find them, which we will because people know who they are and what they are doing.

“Being hung, drawn and quartered would not be good enough for them after they’ve stolen from a memorial park in memory of all the soldiers who have fought and died for their country.”

No-one at Lancashire Police could be reached for comment.