Commonwealth Journal

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May 28, 2014

Memorial Day flowers being purloined from local cemeteries

Somerset —

Lora Hash thought she was visiting her father’s grave to remember her loss, not experience another kind.
Wanting to commemorate her father whom she lost 13 years ago this past Sunday, Hash spent more than four hours and $150 creating a floral arrangement for his grave. It included a poem, a duck — her father was an avid hunter — emblazoned with her father’s name, dates of birth and death and a message signed from the family.
She decorated her father’s grave at around noon on Sunday with the arrangement. Parts of the family went to pay their respects.
Then Hash got a call from her brother, telling her the flowers were gone.
“I didn’t believe it,” Hash said. “I had to go see it for myself.”
Her father is buried at a family cemetery with about 20 other relatives. 
“Everyone buried there is connected,” Hash said, adding that she has no idea who would have committed the crime that is a Class D Felony and could see the culprit incarcerated for up to five years.
Somerset Police Capt. Shannon Smith said flowers are stolen from graves year round, often by people who want to resell them, and “it doesn’t matter if it’s a small family owned cemetery or a larger one,” he said.
 That rang true this Memorial Day weekend as two others reported cases similar to Hash’s to Tricia Neal, manager of Somerset Cemetery.
“I bet more flowers have been stolen but people just haven’t taken the time to report it because they assume we can’t do anything about it,” Neal said.
Neal noted that the cemetery gets similar reports year-round but said two reports in as many days could mean an influx of grave robbing over the holiday weekend, and that she may look into preventative measures like installing cameras at the cemetery.

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