Security cameras at cemetery discussed

Replacing stolen vases will ding budget
Mar. 11, 2014 @ 08:10 AM

Linda Wagoner thinks her late father, Troy Church, must be rolling over in his grave.

News that 138 broze vases were stolen a little more than a week ago from Blue Ridge Memorial Park, a 27-acre cemetery off Wilkesboro Boulevard where Church is buried, certainly got Wagoner agitated.

Wagoner said she talked to city officials about the cemetery's security in 2005, after vases were stolen from 25 graves, including Church's, and was told the city would put a fence in the rear of the cemetery, near Church's grave.

"I said, 'Not again,'" Wagoner said. "When are they going to put the fence up? They need to have the whole park enclosed."

Wagoner said the city paid $100 toward the $300 cost of a new bronze vase after she persisted. But now a $50 aluminum vase sits atop the headstone instead of a bronze one, she said, because security at the cemetery is lacking and she fears the $300 vase would be snatched away.

"It's sad that we cannot put the bronze vase that belongs on there because somebody will come along and steal it," she said Monday from her High Point home.

Lenoir City Manager Lane Bailey said neither he nor Public Works Director Charles Beck recall any discussions about erecting a fence. He does recall talk about keeping the front gate locked after hours, but that would limit police patrols, which have been temporarily stepped up after the latest thefts. The possibility of adding security cameras is on the table at Blue Ridge andhe city's other cemetery, Bellview, located at Finley Avenue.

Replacing the 138 stolen vases is expected to cost $35,000 from the cemetery maintenance fund, which gets a percentage of the fee people pay for burial plots, which sell for $500 to city residents and $1,000 to non-residents. The fund, which now stand at $64,000, is supposed to pay for perpetual care and major projects, such as tree or limb removal, or repairs. Bailey said the $35,000 will not have an impact on services, but the city would likely seek restitution should there be a conviction in the thefts.

Wagoner said she feels for the victims. She hopes the city will respond quickly.

"If they (victims) will get behind and put pressure on the city, they will add the security that is needed," she said.