The following is from a May 29 story in the Martinez Gazette.
Acts of vandalism are on the rise at St. Catherine of Siena Cemetery.
Hikers in nearby Rankin Park notified Martinez Police last week that evidence of vandalism could be seen from outside the fence surrounding the cemetery. Police investigation revealed that several crypts had been broken into, in some cases with their handles and door bolts removed. Additionally, the police log states that two coffins had been removed from their mausoleums and opened, exposing the bodies of the deceased.
This latest incident follows several years of vandalism cases that have plagued the cemetery, which is situated on Carquinez Scenic Drive. Pete Carpenter, the cemetery’s caretaker, has kept detailed logs of the incidents, which range from toppled headstones and picked locks to stolen lock plates and smashed crypt doors.
“They’ve been busy,” Carpenter said of the vandals. “We’ve been trying to keep up with them, but it’s hard.”
The cemetery in its entirety is enclosed by a barbed wire-topped fence, but Carpenter has discovered places where vandals have gotten under the fence by enlarging holes made by animals. Carpenter said that previously he’d tried to make it out to the cemetery at least once a week, but given the recent rash of break-ins he’s been there nearly every other day, checking for evidences of vandalism and walking the fence line searching for new points of entry.
“Unfortunately the cemetery had been ignored for several years, but now we’re trying to bring it back,” he said. “We have had an occasional day where we try to come out and clean up the cemetery. But I’m a little reluctant to get too many people up on that hill because of the liability of people slipping, especially on the dry grass. But if we can get the goats to keep the weeds under control maybe we’ll be able to go out and straighten up.”
….Volunteers from E Clampus Vitus, a fraternal organization dedicated to preserving Western history, have also helped with conservation due to the high level of California pioneers buried in the cemetery, which has been in operation since the 1850s.
The cemetery is owned by the St. Catherine of Siena parish and partially maintained through two trust funds and the Oakland Diocese, which Carpenter said will reimburse the parish $5,000 a year for repairs. Carpenter said thus far repair costs have stayed in the hundreds of dollars, but with incidents on the rise, the future’s uncertain….
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