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Published September 20, 2011, 03:33 PM

Two Gates Stolen From Park River Cemetery

Operators of a Park River Cemetery are puzzled over a recent theft from the grounds. Two wrought-iron gates have disappeared, and some believe the thieves may have sold them for scrap metal.

Operators of a Park River Cemetery are puzzled over a recent theft from the grounds. Two wrought-iron gates have disappeared, and some believe the thieves may have sold them for scrap metal.

The two large gates were removed years ago to make more room for service trucks as the cemetery expanded. They were placed behind an old shed, out of sight. Caretakers noticed their absence a few weeks ago.

"Unless they were actively seeking, I don't know how they would have seen them," Park Memorial Cemetery Secretary/Treasurer Luther Meberg said.

Two six foot wrought-iron gates had been hanging on the east side of the Park Memorial Cemetery for over 50 years. But their home for the past few years has been down the hill, hidden behind an old shed, until they mysteriously disappeared.

"I don't know if it's the escalating scrap iron price or not, but all of a sudden they just disappeared, so it's kind of disgusting," Meberg said.

Meberg alerted local scrap yards, but he believes the possiblity of finding the gates is slim. Scrap iron prices have been high for the past couple months.

"We have not seen anything of that magnitude come in, six foot gates. My guess is somebody, if they were going to bring them in, probably would have cut them up smaller so they wouldn't be recognizable," Sheila Holtan, co-owner of Russ's Auto and Scrap in Grafton, said.

Though the gates have yet to show up, Holtan says she's told her employees to watch for them.

"I can't believe anybody would take that stuff. People must be getting hard up. I just, I can't believe anybody would take that and be able to sleep at night," Holtan said.

The cemetery is open at all hours of the day. But Meberg says the policy could change. He says they could put up another set of gates and keep them locked at times.

"It's kind of sad when people do that kind of thing at a place that we figure is fairly hallow," Meberg said.

Meberg has been the cemetery's secretary/treasurer for 18 years. He says garden hoses and flowers have been stolen at times, but never something of this magnitude.

Both the scrap yard in Grafton and the one in Grand Forks have been alerted. The gates weigh around 300 pounds each, so more than one person was involved in the theft.

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