LINTON, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — Last December, cemeteries across Greene County saw an increase in grave vandalism, and security concerns still remain at one Linton, Ind. cemetery.
City officials said an existing city ordinance could be a solution, but some residents said they see this as controversial. The ordinance would limit what decorations could be placed at headstones.
Mayor John Wilkes said this would also make it easier for workers mowing and weed-eating at the property. Additionally, Wilkes said the ordinance has been in existence for years, but that the city has been lenient on enforcing it.
People in the area said they were outraged after receiving a notice saying ground flowers, ornamental figurines and lampposts would no longer be allowed at the cemetery. Currently, an attorney is looking to clear up the language in the ordinance as it relates to the notice, but residents are saying there has to be a better way.
“I feel like they’re over looking the issue at hand, which is the vandalization, the thefts and crime,” resident Tera Orman said.
According to the notice issued, gravestone decorations would be limited. In addition, floral decorations would only be allowed in a vase or attached to the headstone if it fits within a certain perimeter and broken lamp posts could not be replaced.
Mayor Wilkes said he thinks the ordinance would improve cemetery maintenance while addressing security concerns.
“If we take the valuable items away that they’re putting out there then you’re going to have less theft and things like that,” Wilkes said.
According to Linton Police Chief Paul Clark, as of last December the city had two reports of cemetery related thefts or criminal mischief. Despite extra patrols monitoring cemeteries, Wilkes said the situation isn’t cause for concern.
“I don’t think a couple like that was that big of deal,” Wilkes said. “I mean, I know it was to the people that it happened to, yes. But on the overall picture some people don’t understand the work it takes to take care of that cemetery.”
The grave of Tera Orman’s daughter was vandalized in late 2021. Multiple items were stolen and a light post was damaged. Orman has since proposed adding security cameras to the cemetery and said the funds would be raised by the community at no cost to the city.
“It’s so important because our loved ones matter,” Orman said. “It’s so important because they can’t speak for themselves. It’s so important because they’re still members of this community. My daughter loved this city.”
Mayor Wilkes said he views cameras as an invasion of privacy of those mourning. However, Orman said this is solely for security to prevent future crimes.
“They are important. Nobody likes surveillance, nobody likes to be on camera,” Orman said. “But this is the world we live in, it’s an evil place. We have to take measures to protect ourselves and those that we love.”
Mayor Wilkes said he will be the sole person making a decision on if cameras will be installed at cemeteries. This is a developing story. Follow MyWabashValley.com for updates.