LOCAL NEWS

Lehi mother trying to stop thefts at city cemetery

Mar 19, 2018, 9:53 PM | Updated: 11:16 pm

LEHI – For many, a cemetery is a final resting place and somewhere people can go to feel close to loved ones lost. For thieves, it’s a place to steal from grieving families. In Lehi, there are those trying to put a stop to it all.

Shawn Winters has walked the grounds as the Lehi Cemetery Sexton for the past five years. He takes pride in his job.

“It shows we care about them when the headstones look nice and the grass is always cut,” said Winters.

He feels frustrated when people come into the sacred space to steal.

“I would say it happens weekly, probably more like daily,” he said.

Lehi police often patrol, but catching the bad guys can be tough.

“If they’re standing right there and someone takes something off a grave, how do you know they didn’t put it there and are just coming back to clean it up?” asked Winters.

However, what hurts the most is when he sees the families affected.

“They’re the ones that there is no answer for,” he said.

Amber Baum lost her daughter, Mckenzie, four years ago.

“You know, this is my little girl and I left something out of love because I miss her so much,”

Baum said through tears. “I miss her every day and I’m still her mom.”

Bother Winters and Baum are tired of the thefts.

“It’s been everything,” Baum said. “I have literally never had something not stolen.”

The grieving mother has decided to do something about it. Baum is taking the issue to the city council, petitioning for tougher laws like in other states.

“Some states have actually made it a desecrating a grave charge and it’s a felony,” she said.

Currently, in Lehi if someone were to be caught they could only be charged with theft.

On Monday, Baum met with a tech expert.

“I want to get a few cameras and some signs that say ’24 hour surveillance.’

Baum said that even though her daughter is gone, she will always fight for her. Now, that fight will also be for anyone else with a loved one at Lehi City Cemetery.

“I’m just such a black and white person, there is no gray,” Baum said. “We want this to be a place where we feel safe leaving things.”

“We also just want to get the word out, that every item here is personal and special,” Winters added. “We are not going to just throw them away, so don’t take them.”

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