stealing from the dead

I caught this report from NBC10’s Rosemary Connors the other day: Someone Steals From Veterans’ Graves: Police seek the public’s help to locate missing bronze flag holders


….West Goshen Township Police want to know who stole dozens of bronze flag holders from about 60 graves at Saint Agnes Cemetery on Pottstown Pike.

The flag holders, which often mention the war that the veteran served in, were possibly stolen so that the bronze could be scrapped.

Authorities were first alerted to the thefts on Monday after  several military families noticed that the flag holders were missing and the flags were simply placed into the ground next to their loved one’s grave, police said Thursday.

Police tell NBC10’s Rosemary Connors that the markers are worth about $3,000.


Graveyards and these markers are all too common easy pickings for thieves looking to trade in scrap metal or even graveyard memorabilia for lack of a better term.

This happens all too often and it is not only a desecration of someone’s final resting place, I just find it despicable to steal from the dead, let alone those who served our country through various conflicts and wars.

I know people who volunteer their time to not only see that these graveyards all over are tidied up, but I know a couple of remarkable women who have even had lost graves marked and recognized.

Please note the photos accompanying this post are not from West Goshen.  They are from other at risk cemeteries in South Eastern PA.

It goes without saying that if you know who is pilfering from St. Agnes Cemetery on Pottstown Pike you should contact authorities, or encourage them to turn themselves in.   But the other reality is many of these markers are now gone, and if you can help the cemetery replace them, that would be really awesome.

Also note that all over Chester, Montgomery, and Delaware Counties there are abandoned graveyards.  Churches closing, development, and life have caused this.  It behooves a community to save and preserve these final resting places.  People always portray churchyards and cemeteries as macabre places.  They are in fact, more often than not, places of great history and worthy of respect and care.

Here is the Daily Local on the thefts:

WEST GOSHEN — About 60 bronze memorial flag holders were stolen from grave sites at an area cemetery earlier this week, according to the West Goshen Police Department.
Police said the flag holders, typically placed at the graves of military veterans, were stolen from the St. Agnes Cemetery in the 1000 block of Pottstown Pike.

“This is very disturbing,” said Peter J. Buono, commander of the American Legion Post 134 in West Chester. “These people should pay. Every extent of the law should come down on them.”


Buono described the thefts as shameful, adding that the flag memorials at the grave sites of veterans are the last honor given to American service members and should be treated with respect….. Cemetery employees told police that family members began to report the missing items on June 25 when some noticed that the bronze holders were removed and the flags were placed in the ground……  Anyone with information regarding the theft is asked to call the West Goshen Police Department at 610-696-7400.