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Overthinking cemetery thefts

June 24, 2013 - Rob Weaver
A recent submission to the Letters forum on our Opinion page concerned the theft of items from a grave site. We receive similar letters about once a year, and the latest one again has me wondering about the mindset of someone who would take flowers, vases, wreathes or other memorials from a cemetery plot.

I haven't settled on a possible train of thought by the person who takes the items that makes sense. Regardless of whether that individual is a believer or atheist, there is no logic to the theft.

First of all, I can't imagine someone would visit a cemetery merely with larcenous intent and a fondness for decorative items, coupled with a preference for settings with a low level of security. Most folks go to cemeteries for a reason -- to visit the grave site of a loved one.

So, just what transpires? Does a survivor visit a grave site on the spur of the moment, without the opportunity to buy flowers or some other material remembrance, only to feel ashamed of their lack of preparation after noticing items at other grave sites? Does that person then decide to transport, say, a bouquet or candle holder from an unattended plot to that occupied by the deceased friend or relative?

If that's the case, and the visitor believes in the hereafter, does he or she believe the loved one wouldn't be disturbed because 1) the visitor was incapable of the forethought required to obtain some flowers, etc., first and 2) the visitor assumed the loved one would appreciate such an item that was stolen from someone else interred at the cemetery?

If the visitor does not believe in life after death, then why bother visiting the grave site at all, much less transfer memorial items from one grave site to another?

Perhaps my original assumption is incorrect; perhaps flowers and other decorations are taken by a passerby who is not at the cemetery for the purpose of visitation. Maybe the sight of a blooming arrangement or shepherd's crook reminds that individual he has forgotten to buy a gift for a significant other on the occasion of an anniversary or birthday. Therefore, the cad grabs one from a grave site to spare himself some grief involving a living person.

If that's the case, the fellow should be careful to remove any lettering which may state something like “Rest in Peace” or “In Loving Memory.” Or he may find himself in a cemetery ... permanently.


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