"DESPICABLE" thieves have stolen 11 war plaques from a memorial in Broomfield Park to melt down for scrap.

The theft of the £90,000 brass plates was discovered at the park, in Aldermans Hill, by gardener Bob Booth on Friday.

Police believe the crime took place between 4.30pm on August 13 and 10am on August 14.

Nigel Thorogood, chairman of Friends of Broomfield Park, said: "This is a sickening act, despicable and horrific.

"It's hard to imagine what sort of person would do something like this.

"It will be very sad for everyone, especially because it is looking unlikely we will have the plaques replaced in time for Remembrance Sunday in November."

Gillian Yeung, chairman of the Broomfield Residents' Association, said: "I just can't believe what despicable people would actually climb into the park and rip them off the wall.

"If it was up to me, I would have cut their hands off."

The plaques bear the names of hundreds of soldiers who died in the two world wars, alongside civilians from Palmers Green who were killed in the Blitz.

Enfield Council has vowed to replace them and is currently searching for sponsors to help foot the bill.

However, it could take up to 18 months before the plaques are back in place due to the time it will take to research and engrave the names.

Matthew Laban, Enfield cabinet member for housing and community safety, said: "Let's hope that the police or our trading standards can find the plaques, but if not then the council will pay for replacements."

Police patrols have been increased in the park, and further security measures will be considered by the council once the plaques have been restored, such as CCTV.

It is not the first plaque in the borough to be stolen for scrap. Last July, a brass plate was stolen from Enfield Crematorium, from the grave of a British soldier killed in Afghanistan.

The council offered a reward of £1,000 in a bid to catch the thieves, but the plaque was never recovered.

Gary Martin, county manager for London Metropolitan, The Royal British Legion, voiced anger at the thefts.

He said: "These plaques were deeply significant to war veterans.

"It is with great sadness that his despicable act has happened when you consider the sacrifices of those who fought for freedom in the two world wars.

"We urge those responsible to do the right thing and return the plaques forthwith."

The two six-foot-by-four-foot plaques and nine smaller plates surround an alcove for wreaths that states in gold lettering: "At the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember."

The First World War names were inscribed in 1929 and the Second World War plates were added 20 years later.

Anyone with information should contact Enfield police on 0208 345 3349.

Is one of your relatives' names on the stolen plaques? Please call reporter Rebecca Lowe on 07795 305271 or email enfieldnews@london.newsquest.co.uk.