VANDALS have taken memorial plaques for loved ones placed on benches along the seafront.

Furious families reported 17 plaques have been stolen from beaches near Thorney Bay, Canvey.

Residents took to Facebook to vent their anger and frustration.

One posted: “Just had a phone call that my mum’s plaque on the bench down the seafront has been taken, as well as others.

“Who in their right mind would do a thing like this and what do they get out of it?

“I am fuming. I just hope we don’t find out who this is.”

Another posted: “Who has ripped off my dad’s memorial plaque.

“You absolute scumbags.

“It’s coming up to the one year anniversary of his death and this happens.”

The benches and plaques are installed by beach volunteers.

Colin Letchford, chairman of Friends of Concord Beach, said it very upsetting for families.

He said: “It is very distressing. We’ve lost about 17 so far and I think it is the same person who is doing this.

“I went down to check on the plaques and I’ve had to call people and tell them.

“We are offering a reward of £500 for anyone with information about the incidents.

“We are doing what we can to put things right and replacement plaques are on order.

“We will press on and hope someone will claim the reward.”

Mr Letchford said it is not the price, as these are not expensive, but the principle and sentimental value of the plaques.

He has been posted on social media about the issue.

He said the group’s engraver has promised to send replacements soon.

The beach volunteer said police have been contacted too.

He said they are not worth money, there is no sign of damaged plaques and feels the culprit is keeping them as trophies.

This is not the first time memorial plaques have been stolen from the seafront. Last summer more than 20 plaques were stolen from beaches.

The plaques were reported missing from benches at The Point and Thorney Bay Beach, Canvey.

Some residents like, Jenny Skinner, 40, of Canvey, paid about £450 for a bench and plaque.

Calor Gas, based on Canvey, made the announcement after the plaques for lost loved ones were taken from benches at Canvey seafront.

The firm, in Thames Road, took to Facebook to announce the donations, just hours after residents started to fundraise for the memorial benches and plaques.

Anyone with information should call Essex Police on 101.