THIEVES stole a memorial bench dedicated to a teenager who died suddenly.

The seat was a permanent tribute to 16-year-old David Graham who had a seizure and collapsed while playing football in 2002, and was one of three benches reported to police as missing from Hoddlesden on Monday evening.

David’s dad, also called David said: “We are absolutely devastated. The whole community is.

“After David died in 2002, everybody clubbed together to buy this bench as a permanent memorial for him because he was so well known, and well liked in the area.

“Everybody knew him, and he was such a lovely lad.

“No-one can believe that this has happened.

“The bench had a plaque that said that it was in memory to him, and I just can’t think what type of person could see something dedicated to a teenager who has tragically died and still take it.

“What kind of people are they?

“They must have taken David’s bench for scrap, but I don’t think it would even have been worth anything much.

“To us though, it was priceless.”

Mr Graham posted a photograph of the bench on Facebook in the hope that it would be found, or returned, and the image has been shared 222 times.

The death of the former Darwen Moorland High School pupil, who was a keen Blackburn Rovers fan, shocked the community after he suffered a heart attack on Good Friday, 2002, at Royal Preston Hospital, a week after collapsing at Eccleshill Gardens, in Waterside.

Two benches from the War Memorial, in Queen’s Square, Hoddlesden, were also reported missing, but police said they could not investigate until the owner was tracked down.

It is believed they were owned by the council.

Coun Julie Slater, who represents the area, said: “I am disgusted by this crime. These people need to be found, and they need to be locked up.

“Whoever has taken it must know that it is a memorial for a young boy that the whole community was proud of, and they made the decision to take it anyway. I am angry, upset and disgusted by this. I absolutely send my condolences to David’s family.”