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Hillcrest Cemetery in Dry Ridge will now have more eyes watching out for thieves stealing from graves.
The Dry Ridge City Council approved annexing the 14-acre cemetery into the city limits during its Aug. 6 meeting in order to allow law enforcement to monitor the grounds when they are in the area.
“If our policeman is down there, he can drive through and check it,” said Dry Ridge Mayor Clay Crupper. “At night, if Williamstown Police is down that way, they can check it. We won’t make nothing out of it and we won’t spend nothing. It’s more or less a courtesy. They’re getting so much stolen, it’s unbelievable.”
Crupper was asked by Grant County coroner Robert McDaniel, who operates Hillcrest Cemetery and Corinth Cemetery, to address the issue with the city council.
Everything from small mementos to large floral arrangements left by family members have been taken from headstones.
“The thefts are worse leading up to Memorial Day,” McDaniel said. “It’s despicable to think about people stealing from a cemetery, but it’s done. They yard sale some things and flea market some things.”
Groundskeepers at the cemetery are instructed to not touch anything on or around the headstone, said McDaniel.
However, they do clean the cemetery up a couple weeks after Memorial Day and anything on the ground is removed to mow the lawn.
“Sometimes people call and express concern about something that’s missing and there’s honestly nothing I can do about it,” McDaniel said. “So, my thought was if police can at least patrol the cemetery randomly it could be a deterrent. In order to get the city police in there, in needs to be within the city limits. I hope this indicates to the public that we are concerned about it and do care about it.”
Several years ago, law enforcement were able to catch a Corinth woman who had been stealing items from Hillcrest and other area cemeteries.
The Grant County Sheriff’s Office placed a tracking device hidden inside a toy remote-controlled car that alerted the Sheriff Chuck Dills by cell phone if the car moved 50 feet from the grave.
When deputies tracked down and arrested Kimberly Goodrich they discovered the maroon van she was driving was crammed with stolen items from cemeteries.
Police recovered almost 50 items, including a statue of a 35-pound Labrador Retriever and a 2-foot tall concrete angels.
“That seemed to slow it down for awhile,” McDaniel said about the arrest. “I think people were afraid that maybe things had bugs in it. But, it didn’t stop it and people went back to their same old ways.”
“It’s just a horrible situation,” he said. “I always thought that people who would steal from the dead would do just about anything. It’s not just our cemeteries. I think it’s common everywhere.”