Gravesite thefts add to families’ pain

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Ted Sullivan
Thursday, July 1, 2010
— When Sharon Miller had two bronze vases stolen from her father’s grave, she felt like her dad’s legacy was assaulted.

“It hurts, and it really bothers my family,” the Janesville resident said. “I don’t see how anybody could do that type of thing. It’s a sacred place.”

Miller is one of several victims of theft from area gravesites. At least five thefts have been reported this year, ranging from stolen flowers to Miller’s $495 vases.

A man told police in May two flowerpots, a wind chime and a solar light ball were stolen from his wife’s grave at Oakhill Cemetery in Janesville.

Two thefts were reported in June from graves at Greenwood Cemetery near Brodhead, Rock County Sheriff’s Capt. Jude Maurer said. Gravesite decorations, including flowers, were stolen in both cases.

Thefts from cemeteries aren’t a widespread problem, Janesville Deputy Police Chief John Olsen said. Items taken often have sentimental value.

Thieves often dispose of stolen property and it gets recovered, he said. People with property stolen should check with law enforcement.

In Miller’s case, two vases were stolen within months of each other at Milton Lawns Cemetery in Janesville. The first was stolen in December, and the second in April.

Since then, Miller checks the grave every other day for fear that something might be stolen.

“I need to know that it’s all right,” she said.

Miller said it feels as if her father’s grave is being targeted.

“It’s another burden you have to bear,” she said.

Last updated: 2:35 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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