Robberies at Topeka Cemetery Could Be Confused With This


TOPEKA (KSNT) – If you are missing an item from a grave in a local cemetery, you might want to check with the groundskeepers before reporting it as theft.

Topeka residents were first warned by the Topeka Police Department on March 25 to be on the lookout for suspicious activity at local cemeteries and people who may steal items left behind by loved ones. The TPD told KSNT News that nearly every cemeteries within the city limits have suffered some form of incident, whether it be theft or vandalism.

“We recommend people not to leave anything of value,” Lt. Manuel Munoz said. “Sometimes even flowers are stolen from graves. If we locate someone committing a crime, they will be charged accordingly.

The TPD went on to say that those caught stealing from cemeteries could face charges of theft or even criminal trespassing depending on the situation, as some cemeteries have hours of operation and close at the end of the day. end of the day.

Vandalism of cemeteries has occurred in the past in Topeka and other nearby areas. One of Topeka’s oldest cemeteries suffered damage when headstones were knocked off their foundations in 2018, while a cemetery in Junction City also suffered similar incidents in 2017. However, damage of this magnitude have not been reported recently.

These recent reports of thefts from cemeteries may not involve actual theft, but rather be part of regular cemetery maintenance. KSNT news spoke with Topeka Cemetery Superintendent Lisa Sandmeyer, who said the missing items in the graves could simply be the result of regular maintenance crews trying to keep the cemetery grounds clean.

Sandmeyer said all sorts of items are left on graves that aren’t usually expensive and not necessarily valuable, but can cause havoc if left untended. In a Facebook post from the Topeka Cemetery, a storage room containing dozens of items such as Christmas decorations, crosses, pottery, wreaths and more that were collected by staff.

“People go out and leave things on graves, so we’ll definitely pick them up,” Sandmeyer said. “We’re talking birthday balloons, crowns and stuffed animals. When the winds start to blow, they might end up on the other side of the cemetery.

Sandmeyer went on to say that many of the items the cemetery gardeners collect are kept in their office on the northwest corner of the cemetery. Those who have lost items at Topeka Cemetery are encouraged to use the entrance near SE 10th St. and SE Lafayette St. to reach the office and find missing items or contact staff via Facebook or call during 9 a.m. business hours. a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday at 785-233-4132.

“Any object that is not in a permanent vase may be removed by cemetery staff. Most items removed by staff from burial sites, with the exception of flowers, are brought to the office for storage and can be picked up by the owner. If they are damaged, they will be thrown away”, – rules of the Topeka cemetery.

Sandmeyer said that not all items left in a permanent vase are removed along with items left on the base of monuments. Large wreaths and similar items will be removed by cemetery staff who will soon begin mowing the grounds from the third week of April. The large number of items left in the cemetery not only hampers the efforts of gardeners, but could also pose a health hazard in the form of broken glass.

“The biggest issue I have is with the glass,” Sandmeyer said. “We have too many people bringing glass vases, but some bring a bottle of beer for their buddy. This glass can injure the mower operator if knocked over or injure someone walking in flip flops. No glass of any kind is allowed inside.

As for the actual thefts that take place on cemetery property, Sandmeyer said some people may pick up something they need, perhaps for a family member’s grave, while others enter cemeteries just to look for things they can take with them. However, she said that in many cases it is the gardeners or even volunteers who carry out the removals.

“People walk around cemeteries and take things, but the majority of things taken away are by us,” Sandmeyer said. “We have volunteers who come to remove things. I call them interns.

These probationers volunteer at the cemetery to pick up trash and other items during community service hours, which helps reduce any fines they may have received. Other volunteer efforts to help maintain Topeka Cemetery come each May as part of Keep America Beautiful. Sandmeyer said about 90 people signed up last year to come to Topeka Cemetery and help keep the grounds clean and she expects a similar turnout this year.

For more information on Topeka Cemetery policies, go to here.


Comments are closed.