Cemetery security measures need to be discussed | Poll

WHAT REMAINS: Julie Dittmar with the broewkn keepsakes she and her family and friends had left by her daughtert's graveside. Photo: CARLA FREEDMAN
WHAT REMAINS: Julie Dittmar with the broewkn keepsakes she and her family and friends had left by her daughtert's graveside. Photo: CARLA FREEDMAN

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 eradicate the vile and senseless criminal acts occurring there.

This week the Central Western Daily published the story of Julie Dittmar, whose daughter’s grave was recently attacked. While the headstone itself was unharmed, several ornaments and keepsakes Mrs Dittmar and her family and friends had left there were irreparably damaged.

The heartbroken mother labeled the attacks “gut-wrenching”, “horrible” and “disgusting”, and judging by the comments posted on the story’s online versions, it appears the Central Western Daily’s readers wholeheartedly agree with those sentiments.

These acts almost always occur at night and in an area which is, obviously, not within seeing or hearing distance of an abundance of residents.

Sadly, this is far from the first instance of such thoughtless criminality in the East Orange’s resting place. Previously, we have published stories of flowers, vases and headstones being stolen or vandalised.

It matters not a bit whether these acts are the antics of bored vandals or premeditated thefts, the effect on people grieving can be profound. Laying floral tributes and leaving family keepsakes of largely sentimental value is an important way for people to cherish the memories of loved ones.

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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 to help them track down, prosecute and punish the culprits. These acts almost always occur at night and in an area which is, obviously, not within seeing or hearing distance of an abundance of residents.

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In the face of this persistence, CCTV coverage of the area may be the only option. Orange City Council possesses mobile CCTV technology, and could perhaps be convinced of the need to place these cameras in the cemetery on a periodic basis.

It’s also worth exploring the idea of installing permanent CCTV cameras in the grounds, although the cost to ratepayers of such an enterprise would, as always, steer that discussion.

If we read more gutting stories like Julie Dittmar’s, the consensus may well be that the cost is worth it.

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