Graveyard Theft Leaves Danville Widow in Disbelief

Danville, VA - Fletcher Harris was a WWII veteran who passed away in 2003.

His widow, Helen Harris, purchased a commemorative medallion to honor his service to our country and placed it at his grave, but she was shocked when she saw it had been taken.

"All is left is the little metal stand it was on, " Harris said.

She goes to Highland Burial Park every week to visit her late husband, but on a recent visit, she saw that the medallion she bought to pay tribute to the veteran had been removed from its stand.

Harris says she can't understand why someone would take something with no monetary value, but a lot of sentimental value to her.

"It's upsetting and I think it's pretty low down for people to do that, " she said.

Police say it's a crime they have seen off and on for years.

"We'll have a bunch for a couple weeks and then we won't have anymore, " said Danville Police Lieutenant Scott Eanes.

He says the thefts are often a result of passers-by seeing something they want and taking it.

Though sometimes, the missing items can be the result of a misunderstanding.

"Check with your caretaker of the cemetery, because a lot of times they move items so they can maintain the grounds, " Eanes said.

Harris says she will continue to visit her husband's grave and bring American flags - something he cherished, but she will think twice before placing anything that may catch the eye of a thief.

Eanes says that's the best advice grieving families can take.

"We've all lost loved ones and we all want to do something special, but we just suggest that you not put anything valuable out, " he said.

Police suggest, instead of leaving valuable keepsakes or mementos, leave a picture of one instead.

That way, you can share the item with your loved one while it stays safe at home with you.