Wilmington PD Seeking Suspects in Cemetery Thefts

Police set up a surveillance camera at Wildwood Cemetery and captured parties allegedly taking items from grave sites.

It’s a crime that impacts victims more sentimentally than financially, but it’s still one that the wants to solve.

After receiving calls on a regular basis from residents who have allegedly had items taken from their loved ones’ grave sites, police have set up cameras in Wildwood Cemetery on multiple occasions with no luck.

But during their latest surveillence efforts, officers lucked out with images of two separate incidents of graveyard theft. Now, Detective Pat Nally wants the community’s help in identifying the parties involved.

“It’s all the principle of the thing,” said Nally. “Whether it’s something worth $2 or something worth $50, these people are putting things out in memory of a loved one. Regardless of the money it’s a personal attack to everyone it happens to.”

Police set up the camera on Friday, August 17, and captured thefts over the days that followed. In one of the incidents, multiple parties walked up to the grave site and removed a light that is likely only worth less than $10.

Nally said the department receives phone calls several times per month from residents reporting items missing from the cemetery. In many cases the items, such as lights or plant holders, have been stolen while in other cases decorations could have been moved or blown away during maintenance of the grounds.

Anyone who may recognize the subjects in the surveillance photos is encouraged to contact Nally at (978) 658-5071 or via e-mail.

“We’ve had cameras before with items for bait, but it hadn’t worked out until this week with us getting lucky enough to get a look at the person,” said Nally. “I don’t get the rhyme or reason for why people steal from the cemetery. I can’t imagine there is much of a market for what gets stolen, but it’s something we want to put a stop to.”

Linda August 27, 2012 at 02:52 PM
I have had four flags with wrought iron posts stolen from my parent's grave. The last one I cemented into a coffee can & dug a hole a foot deep..... Gone. Thank you WPD for taking action.
WilRes August 27, 2012 at 04:08 PM
If it's not these people, it's still someone and they need to be caught. My loved ones grave has been robbed of everything from solar lights, flags, flowers, engraved plaques and so on.. What are they going to do with something that has my family members name on it? It's disgusting and so morally wrong! My young children bring items there constantly and the next time we return, they're gone. It is so hurtful and upsetting to know people act this way. And to add to the comments above.. Why are these people walking around the cemetery in the pitch black looking for an unmarked grave? The puppy? Well, there's a sign right at the gate stating "No dogs allowed." And Beatrice, I've called the groundskeeper numerous times about items going missing and I was told they do not remove lights or flags or sentimental items such as the garden stones and other things of that nature. For the most part they remove old rotting flowers so yes, most items are because of theft!
Ed Giroux August 29, 2012 at 02:01 PM
Patch... what happened to the other picture you had here last week? why isnt that still posted?
Matt Schooley August 29, 2012 at 02:05 PM
As it turned out, that photo had been sent over by mistake when the others were e-mailed to me by the police department. Police already had that person identified, and knew why he was there, so I removed those photos. I apologize, I should have written an editor's note to explain that.
WilmyTownie September 13, 2012 at 06:59 PM
It's about time! WPD I say is a little late here as this has been going on for years. My grandfather has been buried there for 25 years now and it's been a problem since then and our complaints went unheard. We don't even bother leaving any thing any more. We always felt it was possibly the people that work there but that's just our opinion and we really don't have any evidence or proof it's just our opinion. But obv. Whoever is doing this has some issues. Stealing painted rocks & such.


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