Vandals knocked over nearly 40 tombstones in Southampton Cemetery and the adjacent Sacred Hearts Catholic cemetery over Labor Day weekend.
“We discovered it on Tuesday,” Southampton Cemetery superintendent Eric Wright says, explaining that about 12 headstones were knocked down in Southampton Cemetery, and another 25 were desecrated in the adjacent Sacred Hearts cemetery. The superintendent suspects a group of kids entered the cemetery from North Sea Road and made their way west, knocking down stones along the way, until they concluded their path of destruction in Sacred Hearts, where most of the damage was done.
Costs to repair the headstones and markers could be in excess of $12,000, possibly a lot more, Wright says, pointing out that one large cross dating back to 1917 was broken in two, and it could be quite expensive to restore.
Wright estimates each stone will cost $200 to be lifted and carefully put back in place. But considering the expense of repairing the cross and the possibility that families may want to fix additional scuffs, chips and scratches caused by the vandals, “That number could go way up.”
Unfortunately, some graves were knocked face down, so right now it’s impossible to even contact certain families, Wright says.
The perpetrators of this crime will find themselves in real trouble if caught, Wright says, noting that vandalizing a cemetery is a serious offense, especially with such a large amount of damage. “When you reach $250 [in damages] it’s a felony,” he says. “When kids get caught, they’ll usually do community service at the cemetery, so we’ll be having them digging graves by hand.” Wright adds, though it sounds like that would be a very lucky sentence, considering the seriousness of the offense.
“They are clueless to the extent of what they’ve done,” the cemetery superintendent says of the felony classification and kids he assumes did this. “That’s no joke.”
While Southampton Cemetery is already very short staffed and short on funds, Wright says they could be fully reimbursed, thanks to a New York State cemetery vandalism fund they pay into each year. But nothing is certain. In the meantime, Southampton’s Brockett Funeral Home has created a GoFundMe.com page to help raise money for the restoration.
A reward is being offered for anyone who helps catch the offender(s) who desecrated these headstones. Call Southampton Town Police with information.