Police arrest 3 in cemetery thefts

Instead of picking out deals on Black Friday, three Seymour residents were caught by police picking flowers from graves at a cemetery, authorities said.

It’s something police believe the trio — Harlana J. Sanders, 46; Connie S. Rollins, 45; and Jason M. Beddoe, 40 — have been doing for the past six months.

The trio, who each face a theft charge, apparently have been taking the stolen flowers and other items and selling them at flea market auctions, Police Chief Bill Abbott said.

Story continues below gallery

Riverview Cemetery, located at 1603 Shields Ave. on the city’s north side, has been the target of their activity, which includes theft of other items related to cemeteries, Abbott said.

He said the management at Riverview has received multiple complaints in recent months about solar and decorative lights and other ornaments that have gone missing from the graves of loved ones. That includes headstone saddles, which can cost up to $50 when new. Solar lights can cost between $200 and $300.

“People spend their hard-earned money on them,” said Myron Owens, manager at Riverview. “It upsets me. You can’t get much lower than that.”

The events that led to the arrests began at 5:10 p.m. Friday when Seymour police responded to a report of a suspicious person at the city’s largest cemetery.

Sanders, Rollins and Beddoe were caught with multiple items in a blue Chevy Cavalier, Abbott said.

“Their backseat was full as well as their trunk,” he said.

The three tried to tell police they had found the items in the trash and on the ground after the wind blew them away, Abbott said.

But they were eventually arrested at 5:15 p.m. and later booked into the Jackson County Jail in Brownstown. All three were still being held at the jail Tuesday morning pending initial court hearings.

Owen said he hopes thefts in the cemetery will decrease with the three behind bars.

Abbott said the best news from the situation is that at least 20 of the headstone arrangements with saddle brackets were recovered from the vehicle along with some flowers.

“Most of them were in excellent shape,” he said.

Owens said if you believe you had an item or items taken from the cemetery in recent months to call him at 812-522-4400.

At a glance

Have you had items taken? Call Riverview Cemetery at 812-522-4400.