A plaque listing civilian casualties from the Second World War was ripped off the wall last week at Lambeth Cemetery in Tooting.

It is thought thieves stole the plaque thinking it was made of bronze, but tossed it into the bushes after discovering it was just resin.

This is the third theft incident in the last year, leading staff to put up signs stating there are no valuable metals at the Blackshaw Road cemetery.

Security guard Vincent Eghwurudje, who found the ruined plaque, said: "Certain people don't show enough respect to the cemetery. I think we need increased security."

Celia Smith, cemetery supervisor, added: "It's totally mindless. It feels like we are sitting ducks here. Fortunately we don't get vandalism very often, but theft seems to be an on-going problem."

Every year, residents gather around the memorial to remember the 1,560 civilians killed in Lambeth during the war.

The plaque, which went missing between 8pm on May 10 and 8am May 13, was erected in 1952.

The monument was repaired and refurbished by the town hall at a cost of £30,000, two years ago.

The attempted theft of the plaque follows on from copper being stolen from two crematoriums last year.

A spokesperson for the War Memorials Trust said that in recent years the rising cost of metals means monuments have increasingly become targets for theft.

In response to the increased reports, they have launched guidelines on their website to help others experiencing the problem.

The guidance has been published by the War Memorials Trust in association with English Heritage and Historic Scotland.

A police spokesperson said there were no further lines of investigation unless further evidence came to light.

There are no currently no suspect details and police are appealing for witnesses to come forward before the theives strike again.

Anyone with information should contact 03001231212.