Carol Grasso, a Batavia resident, purchased two large hanging baskets with petunia flowers for her mother’s grave in Grandview Cemetery. She bought two large heavy duty shepherd hooks to hold the heavy baskets and secured the baskets on the hooks with duct tape.
When she returned to the cemetery shortly after, the baskets and the hooks were gone.
“Everyone gets flowers and we make the cemetery look nice,” Grasso said. “I don’t know how someone could steal from the dead.”
This year, she spent around $100 for the hanging baskets and hooks.
“It’s a shame,” Grasso said. “You work so hard for your money and then it’s just gone.”
Russell Joy can sympathize.
He buys flowers every year for his wife’s grave, but they always disappear. Last year, the hanging baskets disappeared two times. This summer, the baskets have disappeared once. Joy replaced the flowers, spending around $40 each time.
Joy said he has been putting plants at the grave for a long time but has never had trouble before last summer. This year, the plants disappeared closer to Memorial Day, whereas in 2016, they disappeared a month before Memorial Day.
Last summer, hoping to find out who was stealing the plants, Joy put a hunting camera in a nearby tree, but was unable to determine the perpetrator.
Grasso said the only rule the cemetery has on flowers, is that the hanging baskets need to be high enough off the ground so they can mow the grass.
Joy and Grasso reported the thefts to the police, who said they would increase the frequency of patrols through the cemetery.
“This type of crime is difficult to investigate,” Chief Deputy Gordon Dibble said. “There’s no DNA, no fingerprints, there’s a shortage of witnesses. It’s not a crime that is easily solved."
Dibble said it is an aggravating crime.
“The frustration is that it’s a thoughtless crime,” Dibble said. “What kind of person would steal flowers from a grave?”
At her mother's tombstone, Grasso replaces the hanging baskets and hooks with smaller, less expensive ones.