Grave flowers may have been taken by thieves

Published 7:00 am Saturday, December 12, 2015

SENTIMENTAL VALUE: Pictured, flowers adorn graves at New Palestine Cemetery. Photo by Ashley Collins.

SENTIMENTAL VALUE: Pictured, flowers adorn graves at New Palestine Cemetery. Photo by Ashley Collins.

The Picayune Item has received complaints about flowers going missing at specific gravesites at the New Palestine Cemetery. Eric Morris, director of public works for the city of Picayune, said while it’s difficult to monitor all cemeteries at all times, city employees are working diligently to curtail theft and vandalism.

The city currently runs and operates four cemeteries across Picayune.

“We have a fence around two of our cemeteries, which we started to try to do something about vandalism and theft,” Morris said. “It’s part of our daily normal protocol to pay attention. If we saw anyone taking anything we would do our best to stop them.”

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If people are caught stealing flowers or vandalizing the property, they could be charged with a misdemeanor offense, Morris said.

The city employs a cemetery sexton, Edgar Seal, who oversees the city’s cemeteries. Seal has served as the sexton since 2013. His job entails helping families locate plots and addresses any issues found within the cemeteries.

Seal said he’s heard some periodic complaints about flowers going missing, but those are isolated cases.

“Some people take flowers from a grave site to use for another gravesite, as is human nature, and there’s no way to police that because I can’t question if they stole it or not unless I saw it,” Seal said.

In order to avoid theft, the gates of the cemeteries are kept open during the day, but closed at night.

Recently, the city placed new signs in front of every cemetery, clearly outlining the rules and regulations visitors must abide by before entering the premises.

The rules ask visitors to avoid the following: placing rocks or gravel on graves; planting trees, shrubs or placing figurines on or around graves without permission; and placing benches on or near graves, according to the sign placed outside the south cemetery entrance.

Call Seal at 601-273-2312 or the public works department at 601-799-0602 for any questions concerning the cemeteries.