Local News

Vandals Target Iron Gates At Granville County Church Cemeteries

Posted November 7, 2003

— Fancy wrought-iron gates and fences surround hundreds of small cemeteries in Granville County. But lately, authorities say thieves are ripping them right out of the ground.

"They come in here and clip [the] rod, pull the pin out and they are gone with it," said Detective Danny Emory, of the Granville County Sheriff's Office.

The vandals are hitting small church cemeteries all over Granville County. They struck iron at Salem United Methodist Church in Huntsboro, which was built in the early 1800s, and at Banks United Methodist Church, which was built in the late 1700s.

Emory said the wrought-iron market is big right now, making it very valuable.

"This is really antique. It's all hammered. This stuff can bring $1,000 on the antique market," he said.

Many churches are asking its members to help.

"One of the members said if you see anything happening around our church, stop and check the license number, so when I passed the intersection, I saw some cars down here," church member Charles Jefferies said.

County leaders are considering tougher penalites in hopes of stopping the thieves. Similar crimes have also been reported in Person County, N.C., and in Virginia. Johnston and Wake County officials said there are no cases of cemetery vandalism on file.

Police are also searching for the suspects who vandalized one of Charlotte's oldest cemeteries. Twice in September, someone tore down several iron fences and painted Xs on headstones. Most were Confederate graves dating back to the 1800s. Police have no leads.

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