Suspects sought in NJ cemetery thefts

January 6, 2011 2:54:51 PM PST
It seems as if nothing is sacred to the thieves who are plundering a South Jersey cemetery, stealing bronze grave markers.

Police say 3 times in the last week and a half vandals have struck at the Lakeview Cemetery on Route 130 in Cinnaminson, prying off at least 18 bronze grave markers. In some spots, they leave just a sandy base and broken bolts behind.

"It's atrocious. I mean they're lowlifes. It's unbelievable. There are no words for it," said Cemetery Superintendent Bob Shaw.

? Shaw actually confronted the grave robbers early Monday morning when he discovered three white men in their 20s or 30s carrying the bronze markers to a car. The vehicle involved was a 1997 black Ford Explorer with NJ tag number YMP47K.?

The thieves took off, but left behind four of the markers they had just pried loose with gouges from the crowbars used to muscle them from the ground.

The bronze markers are worth between $1000 and 2000 a piece and police suspect the grave robbers may be drug addicts selling them for scrap metal.

"Anything to get money to use for drugs. They'll take it to a scrap yard where $25-30 is what they'll get for it and they use it to support their habit," said Sgt. William Covert of the Cinnaminson Police.

Naturally, families who have loved ones buried in Lakeview are horrified that thieves would stoop to stealing grave markers.

"I just feel sorry for the people who are going to come up here and find out the thing's missing. It's like taking a piece of your relative away from you," said Jack Hathaway of Cinnaminson.

Hathaway and his wife were among a number of people to visit Lakeview Cemetery once they heard about the thefts.

"We just came to check them out and make sure they're still there," said Andrea Hathaway. "Everything is all right."

?Police say you can't go much lower than vandalizing graves and are looking for any help catching the men responsible.