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Grave robbers strike cemetery

Memorials and markers left by family members at Hickory Bluff Cemetery in Lincoln Charter Township have been disappearing all summer.  So far, the thieves seem to be targeting hanging flower baskets.


“We believe what’s happening is people take them and they take them to flea markets or garage sales and try to sell them,” explained Lincoln Charter Township Clerk Stacey Loar-Porter.


The cemetery is filled with empty hooks where flower baskets used to hang.  But, flowers aren't the only things that have been disappearing.


“They’re stealing veteran’s markers that hold the American flags," Loar-Porter explained.  "They think they’re made out of brass and they can be recycled for money, but they’re not made out of brass anymore.”


She says the veteran marker thefts have dropped off, possibly because thieves have realized there is no value in selling them.  But, the community is still saddened by the thefts.


“I'm shocked...I've never heard of this before in all my life,” said Jonathon Fitzler who was tending his wife's grave.


Fitzler, a Pastor, is angry at the thefts and is worried that the flowers on his wife's grave might disappear as well.


“I hope they will stay and if not I will have to go on, forgive these people and put out new flowers,” he explained.


A few years ago Hickory Bluff saw similar thefts.  Police have increased patrols through cemeteries and nearby residents are on the lookout and some even have surveillance systems.


"We just don't want loved ones to feel like they can't put beautiful things out for their loved ones here at the cemetery and worry about it being stolen," Stacey Loar-Porter explained.


Lincoln Charter Township residents are asked to be on the lookout for possible thieves.  They're asked to write down license-plates of any suspicious cars or descriptions of any suspicious people seen around cemeteries and then call the police.

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