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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.”

Dottie Plouffe August 24, 2012 at 01:15 PM
Thank You WPD. My daughter leaves various little "gifts" (painted rocks etc) for my dads grave and every one of them has been taken over the last 2 years. While these little gifts hold no $ value it's sad and hard to explain to a toddler why they are gone. Almost all of our silk arrangements we have had made have been stolen within the first few day's of placing them at the grave. It's odd to have to wonder how long something your placing down will last before it is taken... Best of luck!
Stacie August 24, 2012 at 01:26 PM
So happy action has been taken, good idea WPD!!! It broke my heart when something I placed on my friends grave was taken. Whoever these people are should be fined and charged.
Townie August 24, 2012 at 02:12 PM
Good pictures anyway. Scum of the earth. I want to see them identified and prosecuted. No plea deals.
Susan Rufo August 24, 2012 at 03:09 PM
looks to me like they were sleeping there and perhaps mourning. smr
Jed Clampett August 24, 2012 at 07:33 PM
ummm, Susan I don't think they were "sleeping" !
Just ME August 24, 2012 at 08:27 PM
Everything I have left at my sister's grave has been stolen. I gave up complaining. It's just such a low thing to do.
Marilyn August 24, 2012 at 09:50 PM
I once had a heart shaped rock stolen....Seriously....a ROCK!! Thanks for being so diligent in trying to catch these idiots!!
Nancy Gennetti August 24, 2012 at 11:12 PM
Thank You WPD.Our son passed away 4 years ago and I can't count how many things have been taken from his grave.Your right it's not the dollar value,it's the principle of the matter.We put things on our loved ones graves and it hurts when they are taken.On the 2nd anniversary of his death I put a dozen roses on his grave only to go back 2 hours later to find them gone.
MaryC August 25, 2012 at 02:05 AM
From coins and flowers, to pumkins and angels, these have all been taken from my parents resting place. My sisters and I would like to have our own "stake out". God help them if we catch them because they will need their own plot.
Kristen August 25, 2012 at 03:19 PM
Many things have gone missing from my dad's grave, I'm glad WPD is going after the jerks. The last picture... The woman has her baby with her too? Nothing like starting them young. Disgusting!
Jed Clampett August 25, 2012 at 03:36 PM
ummm Kristen, thats more likely someone on the phone carrying clothes that need to be put back on !
Wednesday Adams August 25, 2012 at 05:02 PM
These people that are being referred to as "scum of the earth, idiots, jerks, etc." aren't your grave robbers, hate to break it to ya WPD but your case isn't solved & isn't going to be solved by identifying these people because they aren't the people responsible for robbing graves. These people happen to be very close family and friends of a loved one recently lost not long ago, looking for her currently unmarked grave because all they had been thinking about all night & wanted to make a visit reguardless of the late hour. Oh and by the way in the last picture that is a puppy not a baby so I'm guessing that is not so "disgusting". In conclusion keep on searching, you've got no grave robbers!
Just ME August 25, 2012 at 08:49 PM
@ Wednesday Adams: If they didn't do anything wrong then they should have no problem coming forward and explaining what they were doing.
Wednesday Adams August 25, 2012 at 10:48 PM
that's already been done & cleared ..bet ya feel pretty smart now?
beatrice August 26, 2012 at 12:23 PM
Keep in mind that many items are removed at the discretion of groundskeepers because they deem them inappropriate. Not all items are because of theft.
Joe Martiniello August 27, 2012 at 01:33 AM
I think it is great that WPD is trying to solve this problem, as it is disturbing that anyone take from a cemetery. My thoughts also go out to those that were photographed in the surveillance video, it's not easy to lose a friend or family member and the fifth picture looks like someone crying.
Wilma Flintstone August 27, 2012 at 01:43 PM
difficult to say by these images whether the man in shorts was taking or leaving a flag...as for the other two; have to wonder what a person is doing in the cemetary after dark...with a blanket? it makes sense to me that he would be taking the solar light fixture.
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 (Editor) 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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