Stealing from the dead

Tuesday, August 3rd 2004, 10:38 am
By: News On 6

Stealing flowers from graves is a crime that increases during the summer and this year is no different. Families and cemeteries both find it extremely frustrating, but there's little they can do.

News on 6 crime reporter Lori Fullbright says one Green Country woman says she's not going to take it anymore. “These will probably be gone by tomorrow or the next day." Becky Fish is faithful to put flowers on her daughter's grave, even though they frequently get stolen, like a week ago Monday, when she brought a special arrangement to mark her daughter's birthday. "I came back and it was all gone. The balloon was in the tree and everything was missing, flowers gone and it's happened more than once."

Becky's daughter Julie was killed in a car crash eight days after turning 16 years old. August 4th marks the four-year anniversary of her death. Placing flowers here is Becky's only way to feel close to her baby girl. "This is where I came to talk to her. They don't realize what it's like. It's very important."

All cemeteries will tell you flower thefts are a problem, despite posting signs that threaten prosecution and having grounds workers who keep a watchful eye. The problem always gets worse in the summertime.

Catching the thieves is the act is next to impossible and short of putting up surveillance cameras, there's not much cemeteries can do. And, that sort of security is next to impossible when there are hundreds and hundreds of acres to guard. Some of the people who steal flowers from graves re-sell them, others see it as a way to save money and place them on graves of their loved ones.

Becky plans to hide her own video camera out here because she wants the thieves held accountable. "I think its lowdown. They are the lowest of the low and I think they should be prosecuted."

Missing flowers aren't always matter of theft. The cemeteries must sometimes remove them to mow the grass or if the items don't fit within the cemetery's regulations. It's important to know the rules of what you can leave at the grave and for how long.

And, if you see someone stealing flowers, report it to both the cemetery and police.