Elmwood Cemetery hit by 'intolerable crime' again
The grave marker is of a young girl on her knees hands clasped in prayer.
Elmwood Cemetery caretaker Steve Davis has been on the job for 20 years and the little headstone always reminded him of his daughter.
"My daughter, when she was little, always made a pose like that when she wanted something," Davis said. "Every time I go past that statue, if I'm trimming or working in the area, I always think of my daughter. When I came in and saw (it knocked down), it broke my heart."
The girl's praying headstone along with 28 others were knocked over by vandals sometime over the weekend.
It's the second time this month -- the first being around April 7 -- that vandals have rampaged through the cemetery knocking down headstones.
Det. Rich Schauf said the vandalism certainly has the attention of Batavia PD and patrols will be stepped up in the area.
"This is an intolerable crime," Schauf said. "Any criminal mischief isn't tolerable, but this is intolerable because of the lack of respect for the deceased. This isn't just about the police being upset. It should offend anybody with any common sense."
There's quite a bit the public can do to assist the police, Schauf said.
First, if young people are involved, they'll talk. They may even post pictures to social media.
"There's an old saying," Schauf said. "If three people know a secret, the only way it stays a secret is if two of them die."
The police would welcome any tips about pictures posted on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or if anybody hears anything related to the crime; tipsters should call Batavia PD.
Second, if you're out and about at 10 or 11 at night, or 2 or 3 in the morning, take a drive down Harvester or Buell. Normally, Schauf said he wouldn't recommend calling the police just because a group of youths are out, but in this case, if they're in that area, call the police.
"Normally, just because three people are out walking doesn't mean they're going to do damage to a cemetery, but if there's anybody in the area, we're going to want to know about it," Schuaf said. "Nobody is going to say, 'I'm not going to that.' We're hypersensitive about it right now and we're going to respond."
Whatever you do, Schauf said, don't go into the cemetery. It's closed after dark, so not only would you be trespassing, you would make yourself a suspect, and if the real suspects were ever arrested, part of their defense could then be that this other person was in the cemetery as well.
Batavia PD is budgeted for a new mobile surveillance camera in 2014 specifically to deal with troubled crime areas, but Det. Kevin Czora said it will be months before the department makes the purchase.
Davis said he might bring up with the board of directors at its next meeting the idea of the cemetery investing in its own camera system. There isn't much money for such a purchase, however.
He said he has spoken with kids who come around the cemetery about helping protect the cemetery.
"When I come by after supper, there's a ton of kids here riding their bikes or whatever and I try to befriend them only because this is their cemetery along with everybody else's and I ask them to keep an eye on it," Davis said. "I don't know what the answer is -- not let people in here anymore? You can't do that. How do you keep the bad ones out? I try to tell them keep an eye out. Let me know if something is going on."
Officer Jason Davis, who took the report on this weekend's vandalism, said patrols are certainly aware of the need to increase their presence in the area, especially at night and on weekends, but it's difficult to catch the vandals in the act.
"Obviously, it's dark inside the cemetery so it's very difficult for us see in there without driving in there and when a patrol car drives in there, usually people can duck in between the shadows and it's difficult for us to see them," Officer Davis said.
The cemetery can apply to the state for compensation for grave-marker repair, but it's a long process to get the funds. The total damage at this point exceeds $1,000.
Volunteers can't be used to help repair the damage, Davis said, because of possible liability. If somebody hurt their back lifting a stone, he wouldn't want to see the cemetery sued.
This weekend's damage forms almost a straight line from the front entrance on Harvester to a hole in the fence near Buell Street.
"They use bolt cutters or something to cut the hole," Davis said. "We fixed it the first time a long time ago, but as many times as I can fix it, they break it."
Because the aggregate damage of each of the two recent incidents exceeds more than $250 each, the vandals are facing possible felony charges for tampering with a cemetery, Officer Davis said. And each headstone knocked over constitutes its own misdemeanor criminal tampering charge.
Cemetery vandalism is a decades-old problem, Davis acknowledged. Elmwood records in the 1920s and '30s record acts of vandalism, but this latest round certainly has Davis feeling weary.
"It's going to be a long summer," Davis said. "It never starts this early. Usually it's in the summertime when the kids are out of school and this year it started early, and I've never had it so close together, so I'm just afraid of what's going to happen this summer."
Davis has had a rough month. Last week his shop on Buell Street was hit by burglars. They stole more than $3,000 in tools.
seriously, somebody find something for these little delinquents to do! Make them work. I am pretty sure if they don't have loved ones already dead they will soon! How would they feel if some low life with no sense of values or moral compass destroyed the final resting place of their grandmother, grandfather, mom, dad or brother or sister? They need severe consequences before they turn from destruction of the resting place of the dead to destroying the lives of the living. Jail and hard jobs to pay for the damage and then require to work in the cemeteries, or perhaps with funeral directors for an up close and personal view of heartbreak at the loss of a loved one.
Could you put a word bubble with the first picture that says: "You fucking stupid shits! Bad Karma is on its way!" ?
Because it is. Real soon you stupid shits, a whooping is in the works already and you stinking turds don't have a clue. Go back to East Pembroke or LeRoy or South Byron or Oakfield or West Batavia or the Churchville Chili School District, where you came from. (That is not a personal attack, it is a very broad based attack on everyone I can currently think of).
Sorry Ray, I have been thinking that I have been thinking funny thoughts again. I think I'm funny, sometimes you think I'm funny, most of the time no one else does and my wife thinks I am an asshole. I can't argue with that assessment, although I often do.
Just a week with a ten pound ball and chain on one ankle would do it for me. But they still have to go to school or visit their probation officer depending on age and circumstance.
Don't bother with what Abby thinks, just ask Geo. Or don't and I'll tell you anyway.(sr*)
Does anyone have an idea how much a security camera would cost? Maybe with a motion detector that turns on some lights too?
As a community perhaps we can approach one of our news members Dick's to see if they might donate game cameras.
ETA: Any hunters have a camera to loan for the Summer ?
Answered my own question. The next question is they illuminate about 45 ft, so how many would be needed? I'm sure there is an electrician who would hook these up for a discounted fee. Need some poles or something to mount them on.
This is a Batavian driven fund drive, I'm talking about. Let's get some good numbers, folks and see how much we can raise right here.
Dave, the ones you suggest are lit all the time, which may bother neighbors and require permits. I think a couple of trail cams should be considered instead.
Ok, thanks Bob I thought they were motion detectors. You wouldn't want lights on all the time.
Again, whichever. Lets get numbers. Trail cameras on e-bay were between 75 and 160 bucks each. I don;t know anything about them obviously, and I don't care to research them. So I need someone who does to figure out the best ones and how many are needed as a starting point
I was thinking something like this ... no lights ... that would alert the perps
I think it's battery powered ... would need a solar recharger.
That link's broken ... just search google for trail cameras and you should find others ... infrared for night vision.
Well, either way Howard. To be honest I could care less about catching the little turds, if the lights work as a deterrent so this stops happening, then good. But either way, let's figure out how much it would cost and then let's start tossing in money, we get close then maybe a business or some well-heeled group will throw in the rest. What are talkin' about? A grand, 2 grand what is it?
I'd suggest heading down to Barrett's and seeing what you can learn there (or whoever is going to check on that aspect of things).
Isn't the City PD going to buy a camera? This would be a good place to use it if they do.
That's addressed in the story.
Also, it will have other duties besides (potentially) this. It wouldn't be there all the time.
You guys are over thinking this.
Just ask Mancuso's if they will allow camera's pointed at the cemetery and a dvr somewhere in the building.
These systems are cheap and could at least cover the Harvester side.
You could also extend coverage by lighting it up with IR lights that won't bother the neighbors.
Mancuso's property is a block further north, not across the street. Across the street from the Harvester Center is the Batavia Cemetery.
I was close!
Same deal applies, find an adjacent property owner, run some cameras.
Trail cams are great but way to easy to remove and damage.
The Cameras are a good idea, there are also other types of cameras that are used in paranormal investigations that can help as well they have good resolution and excellent ir capability and run all night on one charge.
This brand is the highest reccomended... http://www.spypoint.com/EN/
But you can also use these sources as well this sight is a good reference for using camera traps.
2 things to consider though is what we have seen in recent robbery footage here on the Batavian...
1) Make sure that they have sufficient resolution. Nothing would be more frustrating then catching them in the act then not being able to identify them because of poor pic quality.
2) Some IR cameras dont have sufficient ir emitters to get very far in the dark. While there may be some help in these cemetaries due to nearby streetlighting. It might be adviseable to get some IR floodlights for darker areas. Something like these
Just some advice from exp :)
The problem with really good hi res cameras is the cost.
You can get good 700 TVL cameras for about $35 to $40 each.
If you give local law enforcement the number and relative size of the suspects they usually have an idea who it is.
If you give them a semi decent image they usually know the name of the person.
So far we are 3 for 3 with our cameras and criminals!
I agree the resolution of security cameras seems to be a problem, Kyle. I'm looking for an inexpensive deterrent. I just want it to stop. Catching and arresting these punks will certainly help, but is a short term solution because as the story points out it has always happened. Of course if everyone knew it was highly likely they would be identified, that would work, however I fear that will be cost-prohibitive. and then once they are caught, the likelihood of getting any reparation is........ well..........unlikely, there will still be the expense of repairs. So, keep thinking and tossing out ideas.
The solution is out there. Someone knows how to do it. and how much we need to make it happen.
Were any actually damaged, or just tipped off their bases?
Tipping them off their bases is actual damage. The base has to be reset and the headstone re-epoxyed down. The ones pushed out of the ground still take a good deal of labor (labor = $$) to reset.
Steve Davis told me a story about a kid some years ago who spray painted several headstones. The headstones made a path out of the grave yard. Outside the grave yard were more things painted. He followed the path to the kid's home where he had spray-painted his own garage.
Some years later, that kid graduated to more serious crime and is in prison now, Davis said.
I don't take this sort of vandalism as a harmless prank. These kids need intervention. I'm very much in favor of a system that helps lead to arrests and if they're under age, Family Court.
I didnt want to read all 24 comments so yell at me if this is already posted. Infrared surveillance cameras are the solution to this problem. Place a few cameras in the darkest, most secluded spots... they are cheap and reliable.
Why don't you find something for them to do Phyllis?
I do like one idea Phyllis had though, when caught make them some mandatory work in a funeral home and then some mandatory work in internment at the cemetary as well so they can see what goes into what they are disrespecting. These are jobs that not many of us like or desire to know much about. Yet we are angry and mortified about the disrespect. Maybe a trip into this line of work will make an impression on them.