• A string of grave robberies occurred at Footscray General Cemetery in Melbourne over the past week
  • None of the personal effects inside the coffins appeared to have been taken, police said
  • The mausoleum-style burial sites would have required equipment to break into, according to authorities

Thieves stole a human head from an Australian cemetery late last week – the second incident in what police believe may have been a series of linked grave robberies.

Detectives were called to Footscray General Cemetery in Melbourne, Victoria, Tuesday to investigate the removal of a head from a casket at a mausoleum, the Herald Sun reported.

It was the second such incident to have happened in Footscray General Cemetery in the past week, with the first grave robbery occurring either Thursday night or Friday morning, and the most recent one happening Monday night or Tuesday morning, a report by Australian broadcaster ABC said.

Partial human remains were removed from coffins in both thefts, according to police.

The thieves broke into the mausoleum-style grave sites and removed the coffins before accessing the remains, police said.

The coffins were left open when authorities arrived at the scenes.

It was unclear how long the affected remains were kept in the cemetery.

Both incidents appeared to have been deliberate and targeted crimes. Additionally, the method and location of the crimes suggested they were linked, according to Detective Acting Inspector Ben Jarman from the Footscray Crime Investigation Unit.

However, there was no indication that the two people buried in the coffins or their families had a connection.

There was also nothing of value inside the coffins except for some personal effects, the families told police. None of the items appeared to have been taken.

"It appears the human remains were the focus of the offender, and that's what we've been focusing on," Jarman was quoted as saying.

Investigators at the scene of the second incident were witnessed carrying a crucifix and handwritten notes that were believed to have been removed from the mausoleum, the Herald Sun reported.

Police did not disclose any possible motive for the crimes.

It was too early to say how many offenders were involved in the incidents, but the mausoleum-style grave sites would have required equipment to break into, according to Jarman.

Authorities scoured the area for surveillance footage, but "very little CCTV" was present at the time of the incidents, the detective noted.

Police patrols around the area have been heightened following the grave robberies.

The council and cemetery trust also increased security in an attempt to prevent similar crimes from happening again in the future.

The two incidents left one of the mausoleums with "substantial damage," but it has since been repaired, according to Jarman.

A funeral home is rehabilitating the affected coffins and grave sites, police said.

Another grave site was damaged during the second incident, but no human remains were taken from it.

Theft can carry a penalty of up to 10 years in prison, while the removal of body parts can be punishable by up to five years imprisonment.

Anyone with information related to the case can call Crime Stoppers at 1800 333 000 or visit their website.

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Representation. Footscray General Cemetery in Victoria, Australia has experienced two grave robberies within the past week - both of which appeared to be linked. Pixabay