Police: Woman Stealing Wreaths From Saco, Maine, Cemetery

Police in Saco are asking for the public's help in identifying a suspect

Police in Maine are asking for the public's help in an unusual case of grave robbery.

A thief has been stealing wreaths from the Laurel Hill Cemetery in Saco, and the crime may be more common than people realize. Every December, the cemetery offers to install fresh balsam wreaths on gravestones for a fee of $25.

Superintentent Paul Tate says this year they installed around 400 wreaths, but last week, the phone started ringing with unhappy customers.

"They came to see their wreaths and the wreaths were not there," said Tate said.

It turned out dozens of wreaths had disappeared from gravestones and mausoleums. It might have stayed in the unsolved mystery file, were it not for a frustrated relative of the deceased who'd been a victim of similar crimes before.

"She kept losing her flowers," recalled Tate. "This past summer she asked if she could set up a camera."

And that camera mounted on a tree recorded surveillance video last Tuesday showing a thin, dark-haired woman getting out of a dark green or black SUV.
The woman pretended to pay respects, then made off with a balsam spray someone else had paid for.

It is a misdemeanor crime that has made people very angry, including John and Alice O'Leary, who say they've had flowers stolen from their loved ones gravestones on several occasions.

"I think it's terrible!" Alice O'Leary lamented. "How can you steal from the dead when this is all you can give them?"

The Saco Police Department has posted the video on their Facebook page and they've got two detectives following up leads.

"If anybody looks at the video and thinks they know who it is we'd like to have that information. We never know where it may lead us," Dep. Chief Jeffrey Holland, Saco Police Department, said.

The cemetery has since replaced the stolen wreaths free of charge, and the superintendent says he would love to know who did it.

"I hope she gets caught, because this is downright low," said Tate.

Police are asking anyone with information about the thefts to call the Saco police department at 207-282-8214.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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