Theft of mementos at cemetery prompts message to thieves, warning to families

Jun 5, 2018, 12:12 AM | Updated: 6:41 am

SOUTH OGDEN, Utah – Two families said Monday that flowers and mementos left for their deceased loved ones had been stolen from Washington Heights Memorial Park in recent weeks, and they hoped to caution others about the potential for theft at cemeteries, while sending a clear message to the thieves.

“People need to just show respect for the dead,” said a frustrated Charlyse Wilson.

Wilson said a solar light was stolen from the grave of her son, Charles, who died in 2014, when he was just 5 months old.

The light, Wilson said, signified the light that Charles was in her life.

“It’s the same as if somebody had walked up and stolen something out of my house,” she said. “It’s just been taken like nothing matters.”

Meanwhile, at a burial plot a short walking distance away from the grave of Wilson’s son, Ken Clark said two planters he had left to honor his late wife, Carol, had been stolen around Mother’s Day and after Memorial Day.

Ken Clark

“That’s two planters taken from this grave in two-and-a-half weeks!” Clark exclaimed.

The thefts also happened to occur around another significant date for Clark.

“Today is the two-year anniversary of my wife’s passing,” he said Monday evening.

The two families acknowledged the thefts are likely happening at numerous cemeteries, and they wanted others to be aware of what can happen.

“I realize they can’t police the cemetery all the time,” Clark said.

A worker at Washington Heights acknowledged thefts do occasionally happen at cemeteries, and referred further questions to a manager, who did not immediately return a call Monday evening.

A spokesperson for the South Ogden Police Department also noted that cemetery thefts were “not uncommon” and recommended that families not leave items of high value at graves, and that they notify police when thefts occur and when they witness other suspicious circumstances.

Clark said he hoped thieves would think twice before taking anything from a gravesite.

“We want to make it look nice and show respect and honor and love for those that have passed,” Clark said. “It’s a sacred place for me.”

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Theft of mementos at cemetery prompts message to thieves, warning to families