Frustration grows over cemetery thefts

Thieves are stealing items from the grave site of Bobbie Joe Pyles, who was murdered in May of 2006 and is buried at Rose Hill Cemetery in Springfield. Natalie Jovonovich/Staff

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Thieves are stealing items from the grave site of Bobbie Joe Pyles, who was murdered in May of 2006 and is buried at Rose Hill Cemetery in Springfield. Natalie Jovonovich/Staff

A Springfield mother is raising alarm after she said she’s frustrated with thieves who have been stealing items from her daughter’s gravesite for years.

Linda Pyles said she’s spoken to staff at Rose Hill Cemetery in Springfield after numerous thefts at her daughter’s gravesite spanning several years, but has had little help. Her daughter, Bobbie Jo, was murdered in 2006 and is buried at the cemetery.

For years, Pyles said she has left small items at her daughter’s gravesite, including small knickknacks, birthday and Christmas gifts and flowers. But those items have regularly turned up missing, and Pyles said cemetery staff has done little to address her concerns.

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Staff at the cemetery declined to discuss the issue with WHIO-TV, instead referring questions to the business’ corporate offices. Pyles said staff members told her they have no way of knowing who is dropping off items at a gravesite or picking them up or their relation to the deceased.

Officials from Dignity Memorial, which manages the cemetery, issued a statement saying they would look for ways to address the issue.

“We certainly empathize with grieving families who wish to add personal items to the graves of their loved ones,” the company’s statement said. “We care deeply for our families and strive to provide them with a peaceful and beautiful environment in which to remember their loved ones. We do take the safety and security of our park very seriously, however, cemeteries, by their nature, are open to the public. We encourage all of our client families to let us know about any issues or concerns, so we may address them immediately and notify the proper authorities as warranted.”

Pyles said she has not filed police reports, but is asking that the cemetery install additional security, such as security cameras to prevent further thefts. Recently, she’s taken to writing on the items in permanent marker to prove they were left for her daughter.

The thefts have made dealing with her daughter’s loss even more difficult, she said.

“The memories are with me every day,” she said. “It’s been a roller coaster, a tough, long roller coaster to bury a child.”

She said she’s simply asking for help to prevent future thefts.

“The cemetery should put up cameras,” she said. “It would save a lot of heartache for loved ones.”

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