A CEMETERY is the last place you would want to be under the invasive gaze of a closed circuit TV camera but this is the way Orange might have to go to stamp out theft and vandalism there.
In recent days there have been several reports of flowers, vases and other keepsakes being stolen from graves in the cemetery.
It matters not a bit whether these acts are just the antics of bored vandals or premeditated thefts, the effect on people grieving for a relative or friend can be profound.
Laying floral tributes and leaving family keepsakes of largely sentimental value are an important way for people to cherish the memories of loved ones when they visit the grave side.
To find fresh flowers stolen or personal items smashed or taken only adds to the distress of people dealing with a loss by paying their respects.
For most people visiting the cemetery it should be a bitter-sweet outing, sad because a loved one is dead but comforting if that visit triggers some of life’s most significant and happy memories.
This cathartic process cannot happen if a cemetery visit turns instead into an angry and anguishing event because of the actions of thieves and vandals.
Unfortunately authorities have few options. Simply doing nothing and hoping the thieves will lose interest is not a strategy which is working. Sooner or later, and lately it’s been sooner, they come back to steal and damage again.
In the face of this persistence CCTV coverage of the area may be the only option.
CCTV surveillance is common in metropolitan cemeteries where thieves target the parked cars of people they have watched head off among the grave sites.
In Orange it would be a regrettable development but it may be seen by many people as necessary if we are going to maintain the reverence and peace one should be able to find among the headstones.