Thief captured on camera

GREENFIELD — A person stealing decorative urns from graves in Park Cemetery has been caught on camera, and police are asking for the public for help identifying the thief.

Five urns made of various metals were taken from the cemetery in the 600 block of South State Street this week, and investigators say surveillance cameras show the person responsible driving a Dodge Caravan, possibly made between 2001 and 2007, in the area at the time of the thefts.

The vehicle has two license plates, leading investigators to suspect it could have come from Ohio, and is believed to be traveling along U.S. 40, stopping at cemeteries on or near the highway, police said.

The thefts usually occur in the older sections of the cemetery first, where they are least likely to be immediately noticed, officials said.

Investigators said they suspect the thief could be the same person who prompted city workers to install security cameras at the entrance to Park Cemetery last year after 18 urns went missing from grave sites, said Greenfield police Detective Lt. Randy Ratliff.

The urns that have been stolen are used to decorate headstones, police said. They are commonly made of cast iron or stainless steel and can weigh several hundred pounds.

Police said thieves might be stealing the urns to sell for scrap metal or at antique shops, pocketing the several hundred dollars in cash they could make off the sale.

“Even the non-refurbished ones are selling for around $400 or $500 on the internet,” Ratliff said.

The first theft report came in March 2016 from a concerned family, but as cemetery staff started their annual spring landscaping efforts, they noticed even more had been taken, officials said.

That spring, cemetery officials started a log of urns and where each is located on the property in an effort to monitor any additional thefts.

Anyone with information about the thefts is asked to call the Greenfield Police Department at 317-477-4410.

At a glance

Anyone with information about thefts of decorative urns from Park Cemetery is asked to call the Greenfield Police Department at 317-477-4410.

Author photo
Noelle Steele is editor of the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3232 or nsteele@greenfieldreporter.com.