Original copper doors stolen, vandalized at Salamanca cemetery
Sep 25, 2023
The original copper doors at the Gress family mausoleum in Wildwood Cemetery were recently vandalized and stolen, while a similar attempt was made at the Fancher tomb. Salamanca police are asking the public call 945-2330 with any information.
SALAMANCA — An incalculable dollar amount of damage was done to a family mausoleum and tomb in Wildwood Cemetery.
Salamanca Police Chief Jamie Deck said a report received last week showed that the copper doors of the Gress family mausoleum at the cemetery off Wildwood Avenue had been stolen sometime between July 23 and 26. The copper door handles from the Fancher tomb were also stolen.
“It looked like they came back a couple days later and tried to take another door,” Deck said. “We really have no leads on it.”
Since the initial incident, the remaining doors have been removed and placed in storage.
Because the doors were so old, and the copper work was originally done by hand, Deck said it’s difficult to estimate what they would be worth — essentially priceless in a historical sense.
“They’d have to search for somebody to even be able to rebuild that stuff,” he added.
Deck said there have been few cases of vandalism or theft at the city’s three cemeteries — Salamanca also has Cavalry Cemetery farther east off Wildwood Avenue and Crawford Cemetery just north of the city line off Center Street Extension.
“Nobody usually ever steals actual brass fittings and brass doors or anything like that,” he said.
No security camera footage was available to investigators and police are asking for assistance in finding the perpetrator.
Anyone with information about the thefts is asked to call Salamanca police at 945-2330 and ask for Sgt. Investigator Sandy.
If someone is caught, a conviction could lead to a felony record. While some states’ laws treat cemetery vandalization the same as other property damage, others — including New York — have cemetery desecration laws with harsher penalties than criminal mischief laws for similar financial levels of damage.
First-degree cemetery desecration — for more than $250 in damage to any real property maintained as a cemetery plot, grave, burial place or other place of interment of human remains — is a class E felony. By comparison, a criminal mischief charge for a similar incident outside of a cemetery would be a class A misdemeanor charge.
(Contact editor/reporter Kellen Quigley at [email protected].)
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