Broken Arrow Woman Saddened By Theft At Her Father’s Gravestone

Sunday, June 6th 2010, 2:56 pm
By: News On 6

By Nicole Wiseman, The News On 6

BROKEN ARROW, OK -- The death of a loved one is painful in itself. It's even harder when their final resting place is targeted by thieves. 

A Broken Arrow woman says keepsakes have been stolen from her father's gravestone. Chris Sherry says at first she was stunned, and now she calls it discouraging and disheartening.

"My dad was the most important man in my life and we lost him very unexpectedly and everyday I'm as devastated today as I was seven months ago, this just adds, it just adds to the sadness and the loss," said Sherry.

Sherry says flowers and mementos have been stolen from her father's headstone. 

"I know he's not here and I am very comfortable with that, but to not be able to leave something between me and my dad, it's just sad, it's really sad," Sherry said.

Her father lovingly called her bird, and Sherry has made a point of keeping one at his stone. Since December, Sherry says four birds have been taken, as well as a solar light and a wreath.

"I am still daddy's girl and I talk with him every day and if I have to buy a bird a day for the next 10 years, then I will bring a bird a day to make sure that my dad has that at his stone," said Sherry.

The idea of someone actually stealing items from a gravestone might seem unthinkable, but it does happen and there's something you can do to help prevent it.

"Thieves will go where they have least resistance and if they see something and try to pick up a flower that's wired to a vase, they won't take time to cut those wires, they'll move on very quickly to one that isn't," said Mark Blankenship, who is the General Manager at Floral Haven.

Floral Haven has had two thefts reported since Memorial Day weekend. They hire police patrols and have grounds crews keep an eye out for suspicious activity.

"I've been in this business for over 35 years and it's been a problem at any cemetery I've worked and I never have gotten used to the fact, but I guess that's just the society we live in today," Blankenship said.

"I would say it probably happens at every cemetery," said Nick Reynolds, owner of Rose Hill Cemetery.

While theft does happen, Reynolds offers other explanations for disappearing items, such as storms and strong wind.

"If they're not in a vase or tied down, they could not be there the next day and not be any type of theft related," said Reynolds.

Sherry says she is doing everything right. She ties items to her father's vase and has even weighed down what she can with sand, but things like the wreath still wind up missing.

"You physically have to twist (the vase) and take it out and remove the wreath from underneath the base of the vase, so it could not have been an easy task," Sherry said. "They're small, there's really not a monetary value, it's the sentimental value of leaving something that was precious and it was part of my relationship between me and my dad."

Sherry has a message for the person responsible for taking her missing items, and to anyone who has stolen from cemeteries.

"Just think. Think about the fact that you're affecting more than just this stone. There's a family and there are people who love the person represented by the stone and it's just very hurtful," Sherry said.

Floral Haven will help you wire items to your headstone and even replace stolen flowers. But, different cemeteries have different guidelines for dealing with theft, so if you think you've had something stolen, contact the cemetery.

Floral Haven also stresses the importance of attaching items to the headstone because you might think something was stolen, but it could be that it was moved so crews could mow. If you placed flowers at a loved one's stone at Floral Haven for Memorial Day, and they are not attached to the stone, you need to pick them up before June 8, the next scheduled mow.

Also, remember to lock your car while visiting your loved one's grave to ensure nothing valuable is stolen from your vehicle.