Officials investigating thefts at Luther Valley Cemetery
TOWN OF NEWARK--Authorities are investigating five incidents of theft of items from grave sites at Luther Valley Cemetery across the road from Luther Valley Church, 7107 S. Luther Valley Road.
“I attend Luther Valley Church, and during service they warned us about people stealing from the Luther Valley Cemetery,” Jennifer Heisz said. “They advised us to remove the items we placed at their grave sites.”
"My dad is on the board of the cemetery and told me that no one had made efforts to steal from the area where my mother is buried,” Hesiz said. “But when I went to visit her grave recently, everything that my sister and I put there was gone.”
Frustrated and looking for help, Hesiz filed a report with the Rock County Sheriff's Office. They were helpful, she said, but told there was not much they could do.
While there has been no damage to the cemetery, reports of stolen items include several flowers, vases, solar lights, shepherd hooks and bird feeders.
Sheriff's deputies regularly patrol the grounds, but those in charge of the cemetery don't think it will be enough.
“We are thinking of putting up cameras, but in all honesty, people may steal those, too,” said Dan Olson, member of the Luther Valley Cemetery Board. “In making it publicly known that they are on surveillance, we hope this will get them to stop.”
Luther Valley is not the only cemetery where thefts have been reported, and Jennifer and her family are not the first victims.
“We're haven't got the worst of it,” Olson said. “There have been people stealing bronze veteran plaques in Brodhead. The first replacement is free, but after, it costs anywhere from $300 to $500.”
The cemetery is in a peaceful and secluded area, and the five families who have reported missing items wonder how someone could do this to their loved ones.
The thefts have been happening since Memorial Day but with no real pattern. They occur every so often.
“I think it's happening during the day,” Olson said. “No one would think twice during the day about someone fidgeting with a couple of flowers.
“I believe the people are stealing because they can't afford to buy the items themselves,” Olson said. “They're taking some very expensive metal to melt down and/or resell.”