DISTRESSED Dudley churchgoers have been left in a state of disbelief following a series of thefts from their treasured memorial garden.

The green fingered thieves have helped themselves to a number of items from St Augustine's Church in Holly Hall including trees, flowers, bulbs and rose bushes.

The items had all been planted in memory of loved ones and their disappearance has upset many of the congregation.

Rosemarie Plaister, who has been a member at St Augustine's church for over 24 years, admitted: "It's remarkable how low some people will stoop. The memorial garden has been there for several years and the thefts have shocked everyone at the church.

"Many of the items taken have been donated by people who have lost loved ones and it means a great deal to them.

"We've had a rose tree taken that was given by a man who died last year. He would have been 97.

"A lady from the church tends to the garden and it must be especially upsetting for her.

"We've informed the police but it must seem something quite trivial to them, someone stealing flowers and plants from a garden but it has upset so many people."

The thefts have followed the departure of the Rev Christine Browne who has moved to take up a position in South Wales having been ordained earlier this year.

Rosemarie Plaister added: "She donated three lovely weeping willows to remember her by.

"Three weeks ago, two of them were taken. The following week, the third went missing."

The memorial garden is well established and situated close to the vacant vicarage in Hall Church Road.

A notice has now been placed for passers-by to see in the hope that some of the plants taken will be returned.