Cemeteries have, as a tradition, been honored as sacred places. They serve not only as resting places for our ancestors but also as repositories of history of a region or era in time. Gravesites were to be cared for and for many the stone monuments serve as the only link to their past. In recent years, cemeteries have become targets of large and small scale thefts; vandalism, and drug and gang activities. Much of this activity goes unreported. It is happening here.
In 2003, the mausoleum that held the remains of the Bacon family was entered into in Evergreen Cemetery, Colorado Springs, Co. Thieves broke through 5 inches of marble to steal the remains of Mrs. Bacon. The remains were never recovered. Last year someone spray painted gang graffiti on a tree. Another relative reported a theft of a marble bird bath. Another reported thefts of flowers that were left on the grave of a recently deceased child. The flowers were taken 3 times in a week's time. Pry tools have been found hidden under bushes. One year, vandals toppled over nearly 12 stones in the Jewish cemetery and paint balled others. Colored candles have been burned and left on stones, causing damage.
Cemetery Watch will be set up much as the traditional Neighborhood Watch Program is, with the exception that the cemetery residents can't report crimes and suspicious activities for themselves.
Visitors will be asked to be more vigilant. Contact numbers will be published and presentations involving issues in cemeteries will be provided for the public. Signs will posted at the cemetery entrances. We are asking citizens that have loved ones buried within the cemetery properties to become involved. When a picture, vase, flowers, stone ornament, or stone is vandalized or stolen, it is EVERYONE'S business. If you witness a crime or suspicious activity, call the police at 444-7000 and then contact the cemetery managers, Will Deboer or Jody Skamarak at 578-6646. Together we can let criminals know it is not okay to see cemeteries as opportunities for financial gain, destructive pranks, or disrespectful behavior to visitors or its dead.
A kickoff event is planned for August 27th out at the Evergreen Cemetery chapel at 1005 S. Hancock Ave. at 6pm. Members of the Evergreen Cemetery Benevolent Society, Colorado Springs Police Department, and Evergreen and Fairview cemeteries will be on hand to answer questions. A presentation called "Funeraria, the Business and Theft of Cemetery Relics and Monuments" will be shown.
The only persons missing are citizens and you are the MOST important part of this partnership. Make no mistake, it is not enough to be outraged at incidents occurring if you don't get involved somehow. Without citizens willing to become involved, this program will have no chance at successfully stopping crime in our historic cemeteries. WE NEED YOU!
Learn about the "Adopt a Block" program run by the Evergreen Cemetery Benevolent Society.
This event is free to the public. Refreshments will be served.
Please contact Officer Ingrid McDonald at 444-3168 or MCDONAIN@ci.colospgs.co.us if you would like to be included on an email list for cemetery issues, updates, statistics, class opportunities, or events occurring in the cemeteries.