Two Watford families have been devastated after thieves stole graveside benches dedicated to the memory of their loved ones.

One of the benches was dedicated to seven-year-old Aman Ahmed, who died last month of a brain tumour after a year-long battle with the illness.

Grandmother Yasmin, of Gammons Lane, said: “We are devastated. We will get another bench there but we wouldn’t like it to happen to anyone else. It’s very upsetting for everyone.”

Saiqa Ilyas, of Francis Road, said her mother, Tazeem Akhtar Ilyas, died less than a month after being diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. The Ilyases, including her three sisters, two brothers, father and Tazeem’s parents, bought the bench to commemorate the 58-year-old “pillar of the community”.

But two weeks after the benches were installed in North Watford Cemetery they were stolen.

Saiqa said the families and the whole Muslim community has been hurt by the theft.

The recruitment consultant said: “My mother had pancreatic cancer, it was very sudden and now we have the shock of losing the bench on top of that. We’re completely devastated. She was diagnosed on June 2 and died on June 21. The bench has been there since July 22.

“Friends, family – anyone – could go and sit there. My mum would have loved that.

“We thought it would be nice for the community; mum was well known and it would have been a way for people to come and remember her.

“It’s so hurtful that someone has taken that away from us. We just wanted to do something for our mother. It’s a shame.”

Saiqa continued that she was worried other memorial items would be taken from the cemetery.

She said: “Another bench in memory of a boy who died recently was also taken.

“The Muslim community is quite concerned – today it’s benches tomorrow it’s the plant pots and flowers.

“Apparently, this is the first time anything like this has happened at the cemetery."

The Ilyas family bench, a brown teak oak arch bench with rails, was stolen between 5pm on July 24 and 7am on August 8.

The second bench, a brown two seater with wheel arch design, was taen between 5pm on July 22 and 7am on August 8.

Anyone with information on either theft should call DS Clare Ramirez, of the Neighbourhood Team Watford North, on 101 citing crime reference C4/14-1647. Alternatively call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.