Cemetery visitors victims of crime

January 30, 2008 4:56:46 PM PST
It is one of the last places where you would think you'd be the victim of a crime but it's happening again. Thieves are preying on mourners at a cemetery.

Now, extra patrols are being added to a cemetery in north harris county after people were ripped off while visiting their loved one's grave site.

We've heard the warning time and time again, make sure you lock your car doors and leave nothing valuable in plain sight. You should also apply that message, even when you go to a cemetery of all places. We've learned, thieves will stop at nothing to find an opportunity to rip you off.

A cemetery is supposed to be sacred. A place of comfort for families who've lost loved ones.

"I'm visiting my stepfather, he's buried here," said Cynthia Groover.

Groover might want to lock her car door the next time she pays a visit to his gravesite. Thieves have hit the Earthman Resthaven Cemetery at least a half dozen times in the past year. They've stolen purses from unlocked vehicles as the victims were graveside, grieving for their dearly departed.

"I think that's pretty dirty, that's pretty low," Groover said. "I really feel discouraged that people would stoop that low and do something like that."

It's not the only cemetery being targeted. Last April, at least a half dozen thefts were reported at the Houston National Cemetery on Veterans Memorial Drive. Thieves also went after purses left in unlocked vehicles.

Earthman Resthaven is raising awareness by posting signs- warning visitors to lock up.

"We work very hard to make this a peaceful and beautiful place for people to come and visit and we are going to continue to do everything we can to achieve that," said John Earthman of the Earthman Resthaven.

That includes working closely with the Harris County Sheriff's Office, including the agency's Auto Theft and Burglary Task Force. As a result, patrols in the cemetery have been stepped up.

Vigilance is something Groover plans to teach her mother.

"She leaves her car unlocked frequently," she said. "She's an elderly lady. I'm gonna let her know, everybody watching this, make sure you lock your car doors."

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