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Vandals again struck the West Pleasant Street cemetery in Claremont, damaging 37 headstones. This is the second time this summer the cemetery has been hit. MEGHAN PIERCE 

Claremont cemetery hit again by vandals

CLAREMONT &#-; Vandals have again struck the West Pleasant Street cemetery.

This is the second time this summer the cemetery has been hit.

In July, about 75 gravestones were vandalized in the same cemetery, including many historic stones damaged beyond repair.This time 37 headstones were vandalized Saturday or Sunday morning.

Police responded to a report of the damage around 7 a.m. Sunday.

Again, many of the gravestones stones cannot be repaired, said police Capt. Mark Chase.Many gravestones were knocked over and can be put upright again, said Chase, but many are damaged in ways that cannot be repaired and the descendants of the person whose grave was vandalized cannot be located to replace it. The city can do what it can to repair damage, but ultimately the responsibility of replacing a gravestones is up to the family, Chase said.“There are some stones that are very intricate; they might have a vase on top carved into a gravestone,” he said.

Additionally the gravestones are so old that locating family members who would repair the damage is difficult and the City Cemetery Department doesn&#';t have the manpower or resources to make all of the costly repairs, Chase said.“It&#';s a pretty cemetery. It has great oak trees,” Chase said. “It is one of our oldest cemeteries where a lot of prominent people who made this city are buried.”

Gravestones at the cemetery go back 170 years, the most recent headstones date back to the 1950s and 60s, Chase said. Most gravestones in the cemetery are dated between 1900 and 1930.“This seems like such a senseless and malicious act, why?” Costa said. “There&#';s obviously nothing&#';s gained by this at all. It&#';s just frustrating, very frustrating. Most people hear about this and just shake their heads.”A group of citizens outraged by the first vandalism in July banded together to offer a $1,000 reward to find who damaged the stones.

The reward money is being extended to this incident as well, Chase said.Police suspect whoever committed the July vandalism likely committed this most recent act, Chase said.

Police are looking for help in finding out who did it, Chase said.

The July investigation is still open, but “realistically we ran into dead ends right way.”“It just seems so random and malicious, but we have limited information and are looking for help from the public,” Chase said.

The $1,000 reward is for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the damage.Anyone with information about either incident are asked call police at 603-542-9538.

mpierce@newstote.com

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