A GANG of heartless thieves targeted a grave, stealing a two-foot lily plant and sparking community outrage.

The crooks stole the plant from the grave at Canvey Heritage Centre, in full view of a volunteer.

The grave belongs to a man who died 11 years ago.

His 73-year-old widow, who has asked to remain anonymous, was given the news by members of Friends of St Katherine’s Church.

The woman is a member of the group and has declared the “scumbags must be caught”.

She said: “I had taken the plant from my own garden and planted it at my husband’s grave.

“The group member saw two older women and two teenagers but couldn’t catch them in time before they left.

“I cannot repeat what I said, as it is so rude.

“I was feeling furious and so were the rest of the group.

“We are a private family so I will not be speaking publicly about my late husband’s death.

“There’s no respect for the dead or the living; you don’t steal from a grave.”

The furious widow added: “I think this was just opportunists, I don’t think it’s anything against me or the family.

“I think it is really disgusting that someone would do such a thing.

“We work so hard down there on a Friday and it seems no matter what we do, they keep pushing us back.”

The mother-of-two revealed this is not the first thing taken from the plot.

Last year, a Magnolia tree was stolen from the site.

She is now planning to replace the bush with something else as soon as she can find an appropriate replacement.

Dave Blackwell, chairman of Friends of St Katherine’s Church, also slammed the callous thieves.

He said: “This is an outrage, we have had this happen before.

“I just cannot imagine how low someone goes to do this.

“To steal from a grave is bad but it’s especially bad when something is growing in the grave.

“It is just so unbelievable and I feel sorry for this family.

“It must be so distressing for them.”

The group works at the church from 1pm on Fridays and are in need of donations.