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Daughter furious after thief targets local cemetery

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Daughter furious after thief targets local cemetery

By Michael Lopardi. CREATED Aug 6, 2014

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- A valley woman is furious after a thief targets headstones at a local cemetery.

Memory Gardens on Lone Mountain Road and Tenaya Way is a peaceful place and the final resting place for James and Lynne Liefke.

"This is where we laid our loves ones and friends to rest in peace," said daughter Robin Gomez.

Gomez said her parents were active in the community before they passed away in 2006 and 2009, respectively.

"They were great people," Gomez said.

People who didn't deserve what happened last week. The family provided a photograph of what the graves are supposed to look like. Gomez said someone stole a bronze vase from her father's headstone. A bronze and copper disc that covered most of her mother's headstone was also removed. The gaps are now filled with flowers.

"My mom would've been outraged like myself," said Gomez.

So who would do something like this?

"Somebody that's looking for money. Somebody that has no dignity," said Gomez.

Action News noticed other headstones had holes in them, but it's unclear if they were victimized as well. Gomez called the police, then she called Action News.

"I don't understand where people and their morals have gone," Gomez said.

Cemetery theft, in general, has been a problem for some time, said Nathan Stiffler, managing partner with Bunker Mortuary and Cemeteries, which oversees Memory Gardens. The issue escalated around 2007 when the economy declined, he said.

Stiffler said thieves tend to target bronze for its scrap metal. Vases and plaques, or markers, are prime targets which is why the cemetery recommends families instead purchase bronze-colored zinc. The material is of little value to criminals, he said.

While the cemetery has security measures, thieves are often hard to spot apart from regular visitors.

"I'm hoping that people who don't go and visit grave sites realize that they do need to visit once in a while," said Gomez.

Las Vegas police are investigating the case, said police spokesman Officer Jose Hernandez, but the agency has not received a significant number of similar complaints. Most recently, Hernandez said metal plaques in community parks were targeted for their metal.

Gomez said the cemetery is working with the family to replace the missing items.

Stiffler said anyone who spots anything suspicious at the cemetery should try to obtain a license plate number and call the police.

Michael Lopardi

Michael Lopardi

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Michael Lopardi is the featured reporter of the You Ask. We Investigate. franchise at Action News.