(KMOV) -- At least 20 headstones at the St Vincent de Paul Cemetery in Dutzow, Missouri have been knocked off their bases or destroyed. In two separate instances, vandals pushed over headstones at the hilltop cemetery, along State Highway 94.
Rev. Gene Robertson says that vandals knocked over at least 10 headstones in February. Most were at least 100 years old and cracked or shattered when they hit the ground.
Two weeks ago, the vandals knocked over at least 10 more headstones in a newer section of the cemetery. These grave markers did not break, but they will have to be reset on their bases. It did not appear that any particular graves were targeted over others.
It's not clear what the damage will cost the church. Rev. Robertson says he is working with the insurance company to determine what it'll take to restore the grave markers.
"I weigh that a whole lot less than what it does to those at rest and those wanting to visit those at rest. That's the harder pain," said Rev. Robertson.
The church contacted the Warren County Sheriff's Office and Rev. Robertson says police have promised to boost patrols near the cemetery. Rev. Robertson says the church is considering installing surveillance cameras or adding lighting to deter vandalism on church grounds in the future.
"We do actually bless it. It is sacred ground. It's very jarring to see something damaged in sacred space."