Police searching for suspects after 9 headstones removed, stolen - KMOV.com

Police searching for suspects after 9 headstones removed, stolen from Caseyville Cemetery

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CASEYVILLE, Ill. (KMOV.com) -

Police are asking for the public's help in identifying and locating those responsible for removing several headstones from Caseyville Cemetery. 

Caseyville Police said they were informed on Monday a suspect or suspects has been removing headstones from the cemetery. A total of nine old sandstones were removed and stolen from the property. Police said they were told the thefts occurred over the last two weeks. 

A treasurer for the Caseyville Cemetery got word about someone sneaking into his cemetery over the last few weeks.

The chief told the treasurer, not only did someone trespass, but they also took 9-10 grave-markers. Cemetery staff is working to locate plots missing those markers.

Caseyville Cemetery Treasurer. Bob Stephens, showed News 4 one of the areas missing a tombstone. 

"They were just like these. We used to have five of them in here. Now, we just have four," said Stephens.

It was not hard for News 4 cameras to pick-up the spot where one was yanked. 

"Apparently, there have been one a week for the last 4-5 weeks. I had not been notified of that until this morning," added Stephens. 

The cemetery's landscaping crew discovered the theft and called police.

"It seems like the ones they took are from the oldest part of the cemetery. We have not found any yet from the more recent people," added Stephens. 

The cemetery is hundreds of years old. 

Police Chief Thomas Coppatelli doesn't know if the thieves are young or old. 

"They seem to be taking them from the scene. What they do with them, I do not know," said Chief Coppatelli. 

He thinks of one word when describing the thefts. 

"It's kind of a deplorable. I mean, this is a memorial to people and their families," added Chief Coppatelli. 

One thing comes to mind, for Stephens, who's volunteered in the cemetery industry 40 years. 

"It's kind of de-filing a sacred place. That is what makes me so mad about it. It's mischief I guess. We have never had any taken out of here before," added Stephens. 

Stephens says the markers are so old, it's proving hard to find and read names on them. He says it is ever harder finding someone alive who's related to the person buried. 

Chief Coppatelli plans to prosecute the thieves once caught. The treasurer told News 4 if a family wants a grave-marker replaced, the family must buy another one.

The treasurer says the markers belong to the families and not the cemetery.

At this time, police do not know the exact number of suspects involved in the string of thefts. 

On their Facebook page, Caseyville Police asked for the public's help in identifying and locating those who involved. 

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Caseyville Police Department at 618-344-2151.

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