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Cameras set up in cemetery after vandalism

Cameras set up in cemetery after vandalism
March 06
07:02 2013
New security cameras have been installed at Oakwood Cemetary can be seen on Tuesday, Mar. 5, 2013, after multiple occurrences of vandalism. Matt Hellman | Lariat Photo Editor

New security cameras have been installed at Oakwood Cemetary can be seen on Tuesday, Mar. 5, 2013, after multiple occurrences of vandalism.
Matt Hellman | Lariat Photo Editor

Kate McGuire
Staff Writer

Security cameras donated by Financial Equipment Corp. have been set up in Oakwood Cemetery to increase the security and surveillance of the grounds.

This is a result of the Jan. 26 vandalism of statues and busts in the cemetery caused by multiple vandals. The vandalism cost the cemetery $200,000 in repairs.

Last week, Bob Bond, owner of the Financial Equipment Corp., donated more than a dozen 24-hour surveillance cameras that monitor the Oakwood Cemetery grounds.

“It’s a huge piece of property, so we really can’t cover the entire thing totally, but we’ve set some traps so that if they try this again they’ll get caught,” Bond said.

Because the Waco community around the cemetery expressed concern about the devastation, David Evans, director of Oakwood Cemetery, started looking for different companies to evaluate the needs of the grounds and give advice for security.

Bond expressed his individual concern about the vandalism to Evans and decided to donate cameras from his business and cover the costs of the installation.

Bond has family and friends buried in Oakwood and said he believes that, in order to keep the cemetery safe and secure, the need for cameras was necessary.

“Oakwood is a hallowed ground to a lot of people in this town and I’m in the business so I could do it,” Bond said. “A lot of families have been really supportive of the cemetery itself and have wanted to find those who vandalized the cemetery,” Bond said.

Sergt W. Patrick Swanton of the Waco Police Department said the cameras will keep people from doing what they shouldn’t be doing. These will be used as a second pair of eyes for the police.

“With the cameras there, it is a deterrent. People don’t realize they are being videotaped. Here we get the eyewitness accounts,” Swanton said. “We can get good general descriptions and can get facial recognition. We solve a lot of crimes through video surveillance. Here, witnesses can help us recognize those individuals.”

Evans said he has not heard any more reports of the vandals that could lead to their arrest, but police are still monitoring the situation.

There is a $10,000 reward for anyone who knows who the vandals are and people may remain anonymous.

The vandalism occurred between 9 p.m. Friday and 7 a.m. Saturday Jan. 26.

The investigation is ongoing and detectives continue to work thoroughly on it, Swanton said.

Busts of famous Waco citizens were destroyed and statues on memorials were broken. Monuments vandalized included those of Texas Gov. Richard Coke and Madison Cooper, author of the book “Sironia, Texas.”

“At this point, everything has been repaired or restored with the exception of one or two monuments that are still in the process of being restored,” Evans said. “Everything is being cleaned up and put where it needs to go.”

Swanton said he believes that the whole community is affected by the choices of the vandals and that police strive to not only keep the cemetery safe but keep it sound.

“These officers are very responsible and don’t like to see these types of crimes happen,” he said. “[The vandalism] was such an offensive crime that happened in our community. When someone comes in and disrupts a very serene place like that, where you’re supposed to go to be able to have a peaceful setting and are able to be respectful to folks who have either been in your family or friends who have passed away,” Swanton said.

Swanton said his other concern for the area is the communities’ strong reaction to this crime.

“For a crime like this to occur, is something that just is not acceptable to our community. It is certainly not acceptable to the officers who work there,” Swanton said. “It gives us a heightened sense when these things happen.”

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