Thieves hit area cemetery

July 10, 2008 3:52:40 PM PDT
People around Riverview Cemetery in Wilmington are shaking their heads over the theft of metal that adorned a mausoleum. The cemetery is the largest in the city. Over the years it has become a victim of neglect.

And now it is a victim of crime: someone stole the doors right off of a mausoleum and they didn't stop there.

"I can't imagine anyone being desperate enough or low enough to steal from a cemetery. That's just so wrong," said Dotty Marx of Wilmington.

Marx comes to the cemetery every day to feed a stray dog.

That's how she spotted a man who appeared to be working on the 1,000 pound bronze doors of the mausoleum on Saturday and Sunday.

By Monday, "the doors were just gone, and I just couldn't believe it," Marx said.

Marx wasn't the only person who told police exactly when the doors were stolen.

So did a homeless man who still appears to be living here with the remains of 246 people.

"It's very, very heartbreaking. It really truly is. I'm very said about the whole thing," said Ethel Bernhard.

So is Cheryl Markiewicz, a member of a group trying to restore Riverview. Four doors like these were taken, but that was just the beginning.

The crook, who police say couldn't have been working alone, even tried to peel off metal from the roof. Markiewicz believes the thieves first hit the cemetery last month.

That's when she took this picture with hopes of securing a grant to have diseased trees cut down.

Today the doors in her photo are gone.

"That was June 14th, and I had it dated on my camera picture, so I knew. I knew it had just happened," Markiewicz said.

Delaware recently passed a law that makes it tough for scrap dealers to accept stolen metals, so it's likely the criminals will try to unload the stolen stuff out of state.