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Decorations stolen from city gravesite

December 13, 1999|By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

When Elizabeth Hay went shopping for Christmas decorations a few weeks ago her only thought was of how pleasing her parents gravesite would look adorned for the season.

She spent around $30 on a two-foot evergreen tree, ornaments, boxes wrapped as presents, a sleigh, teddy bear and reindeer and placed them near the tombstone for Richard and Rebecca McDowell at Rest Haven Cemetery on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Although she took lengths to tie the base of the tree down with stakes, the decorations remained there for less than two days.

"At 4 p.m. I went to check on them and they were gone," said Hay of Hagerstown.

Someone had stolen all of the decorations except an iron shepherd's hook, she said.

The items may not have been expensive, but they were important to her for sentimental reasons, she said.

Other than the theft of Hay's property, there haven't been many reports of items taken from graveyards lately, according to Hagerstown City Police.

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Rest Haven's location near the North Hagerstown High School may make it convenient for school students to play pranks, police said.

Since decorating a loved ones grave may help in the grieving process, police do not recommend that people not place decorations out, but any incidents of thefts and suspicious behavior at the cemetery should be reported, police said.

City police will make a special patrol through the cemetery if requested, police said.

Hay said she has decorated her parents graves for every holiday for the past two years and nothing had been taken before.

"I though they might have blown away," at first she said. Hay later learned from a cemetery official that other decorations had been stolen from the cemetery.

She said it was particularly hurtful to lose the empty boxes which were gift-wrapped because the name tags held a special message to her parents from their grandchildren.

"No amount of money will replace it all," she said.

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