Grave Robbers: Thieves Taking Flowers To Make Quick Buck - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

4/26/05-Tyler

Grave Robbers: Thieves Taking Flowers To Make Quick Buck

Grieving families visit their loved ones, often bringing arrangements of silk flowers to place on the graves. But sometimes within minutes, those flowers vanish.

Where they're going has some folks feeling that their grief and privacy have been violated.

Sharon Tipton's son, Sandy lies at Tyler's Memorial Park Cemetery where not only families visit, but thieves too.

"We replace flowers about three times a year, and on [one] particular Sunday, we found the brand new flowers we put just two weeks prior had been stolen," she says.

The wind hadn't taken them.  They were ripped clean from the headstone.

"It's just something that I can't even explain. It's just sick," she says.

The silk flowers might seem like small tokens of love, but to crooks, it's cold cash.

Judy Adams and Nancy Price make many of the arrangments at Hobby Lobby -- arrangements they say more people are stealing than ever.

"If you put them out on Canton [Trades Day] weekend, or weekends that there are big sales, they tend to go missing a lot more. So, we warn people not to put them out then," Adams says.

"It's hard for seniors particularily on a limited income to do this," Price adds.

Adams says many of the victims come to buy replacement flowers, and they've been emotionally scarred.

"They're grieving, and many times it's right after a loss, and they'll come back and those flowers are gone, and they'll come back here in tears," she says.

"For people to come out here and take flowers off a grave is one of the lowest things you can do," says Sharon Tipton.

She says a cemetery should be an open place, but more importantly, a place of honor and respect.

"Obviously, we can't stay out here and guard the flowers every day."

She hopes anyone who sees suspicious activity calls police. Arrangements have been reported stolen from cemeteries all over East Texas. An employee of Memorial Park suggests families permanently mark their loved one's name on the underside of flowers and on stems, so they're harder for thieves to sell at flea markets.

Reported by Morgan Palmer.

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