Vandals strike Nevada City cemetery |

Vandals strike Nevada City cemetery

Headstones knocked over or shattered into pieces. Small wooden crosses yanked out and strewn about.

For some of the graves at Saint Canice Catholic Cemetery in Nevada City, those were the only markers noting who was buried in the plots.

That was the scene Monday at the cemetery, where someone had vandalized the grounds at least three times recently.

“I don’t call it mischief anymore – it’s desecration,” said Kathleen Haider, secretary at Saint Canice Catholic Church. “People expect to be able to bring their loved ones to their final resting place. To desecrate holy ground is shameful.”

A man walking through the cemetery first noticed the damage early last week, Haider said. Police have been investigating the vandalisms, but didn’t have any definite leads as of Monday.

“We know that occasionally transients will spend the night there,” Nevada City officer Steve Ford said. “It could be them or it could be kids.”

Haider said the recent rash of vandalisms is the first the cemetery has seen in a couple of years.

“Maybe they feel this is how they should express themselves,” she said.

While the cemetery is insured, she said it is still disheartening to see someone vandalizing graves. The headstones and other markers, which reach back into the mid-1800s, will have to be either repaired or replaced.

“There is a lot of history in this little area and it tells the story of our community,” she said.

Officers have talked to neighbors and have started more patrols of the area at night and during the day. Ford said that people have been seen inside the cemetery at night, although no one has been spotted breaking headstones.

The officer said the vandalism was most likely caused by people who had nothing better to do.

Anyone with information on the offenders, or the location of the headstones and crosses that have gone missing, is asked to call the police department at 265-2626.

Haider said that while donations may be sent to the church, at 317 Washington St., in Nevada City, she would prefer help in catching the culprits.

“We would like to have (residents’) eyes and ears – if they see or hear anything, they should report it,” she said. “The people will keep doing this until they get caught.”

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