Thieves target graves in Candia's Holbrook Cemetery
RYAN O'CONNOR Union Leader Correspondent
Evan Webster's sign in front of the Holbrook Cemetery was taken on June 18 and left at a nearby location. (RYAN O'CONNOR)
CANDIA — A father who lost two daughters to cancer is upset that someone has taken flowers from their graves at Holbrook Cemetery.
He’s not alone.
Candia Police Chief Mike McGillen said his department took three reports in as many days regarding flowers and other items being taken from gravesites in the cemetery.
“It’s pretty upsetting,” he said. “Whoever’s doing this has sunk to a new low. It’s pretty bizarre behavior.”
McGillen said the items taken include hundreds of dollars worth of planted and potted flowers, and other items such as illuminated grave markers.
Candia police say they’re looking to find those responsible and charge them to the fullest extent of the law.
“We planted $120 worth of perennials on Tuesday and watered them Wednesday and Thursday, and then we went up Saturday morning and all the plants were gone,” said Roland Grimard. “We had 11 plants around three stones, and they even took the time to fill in the holes and flatten it out.”
“The only thing I have other than pictures (of my daughters) is the (cemetery) stones,” he said. “The one place you put your loved ones to rest and take the time to make the area beautiful and someone does this. It’s just not right.”
Marguerite Swain said she has been visiting graves at the Holbrook Cemetery in Candia for as long as she can remember. When she was a young child, she brought flowers to the gravesites of her grandparents, then later in life, those of her parents, and most recently her husband, who passed away in September of 2009.
Never in that time did she experience what she came across early Saturday, when she made her routine trip to the cemetery to water the flowers left in honor of her loved ones.
“Two of the pans with beautiful plants in them were missing, and then I went to another lot I’ve been routinely watering and a pan of plants missing there as well, as was one little marigold that had been dug up, and then on the way out I passed by another gravesite I’ve tended to for friends and noticed at least three pots missing there, as well as some luminaries,” she said.
“It’s not the monetary value,” said Swain. “It’s the idea we put it there to honor loved ones. I mean, who does this sort of thing?”
In addition, a local Eagle Scout, who was working on a project to restore the metal gate at the entrance to Holbrook Cemetery, had a makeshift sign ripped down and left near Moore Park and the Candia Police station.
McGillen said the person(s) responsible, if caught, will likely be charged with several counts of unauthorized theft by taking, a misdemeanor, but since there has been no damage to the gravestones, he said it’s unlikely those responsible will see additional charges for vandalism.
“Right now, we’re stepping up our presence at the (Holbrook) cemetery, which is where this criminal activity seems to be primarily contained,” said McGillen. “We’re hoping to generate some interest from residents who may see or hear something regarding these crimes.”
Grimard said he’s thankful that police are stepping up their efforts, but said for his family, this is the third year in a row that either flower pots, urns or planted flowers have been stolen, and he said he’d like to see the town take additional measures such as shutting the cemetery gate at 9 p.m. each night or installing a security camera of some variety to either identify or deter the criminal activity.
“I know somebody can’t be there watching all the time ... but something needs to be done,” he said. “My wife and I are both retired. We can’t afford to keep replacing these flowers.”