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Graveyard thieves may have sought scrap

By Staff | Jul 10, 2009

Some 200 small aluminum grave markers were stolen from Elmwood Cemtery on W.Va. 480 in recent weeks. Photo by Michael Theis, Chronicle

About 200 grave plot markers have been stolen from the Elmwood Cemetery grounds, and the group charged with maintaining the property is wondering how it will cover the estimated $1,200 loss.

On July 25, Richard Brown, president of the Elmwood Cemetery Association Inc., notified the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department about the theft of the roughly 4-by-4-inch, numbered aluminum markers. Brown guesses the thief or thieves took the markers sometime in the last few weeks and intended to sell the metal for scrap.

“You can still see the imprints” in the grass, Brown said this week. “They knew exactly where they were. … Anybody that steals from the cemetery is about as low as you can possibly get.”

The markers were not at any family graves, and no graves were desecrated during the crime, Brown said. The markers were placed in the new, 2,000-grave section of Elmwood that was opened about two years ago, he said.

“We rely almost 100 percent on donations and the sale of lots” to maintain the grounds, Brown said. “That is our budget.” He hopes a local donor or donors will come forth to help defray the cost.

Because the markers were easily removed, Brown figures the Association will have to employ a different, more expensive method of placing the markers, perhaps setting them in concrete.

“If we do the same thing again, somebody’s going to take them,” Brown said.

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In other Elmwood Cemetery news, the Association hopes to have completed its four-year entrance gate and iron fence restoration project by the end of the summer.

State Sen. Herb Snyder’s Shasta Corporation, of Shenandoah Junction, is performing the work. Snyder and his crew hoped to have 24 finished sections of the fence reinstalled by midday Wednesday.

Each 8-foot panel, weighing 328 pounds, is removed, taken to the paint shop, sandblasted, powdercoated and then baked in a high-temperature oven before being returned for reinstallation.

“We’re going to finish this job this year,” Snyder said. He said the powdercoating should still look good 50 years from now. He noted the iron fence posts, which are set in stone, are liquid painted with high-quality paint.

After this week, 19 more sections remain to be painted.

Elmwood Cemetery Association Inc. President Richard Brown said the entrance gates were restored at a cost of $18,000 and he estimates the fence refinishing will cost a total of more than $30,000 when completed. All of the funds for the project have come from donations and bequests, he said.

– Burial plots are available in Elmwood Cemetery. Call Elmwood Cemetery Association Inc. President Richard Brown at (304) 876-6352 for information.