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Cemetery burglarized for third time

URBANA -- Thieves are disturbing the peace at an area cemetery.
URBANA -- Thieves are disturbing the peace at an area cemetery. A lawn mower, worth $11,000, is missing and workers say whoever stole it took much more than a piece of equipment.

“This cemetery was going downhill until we finally got in there and started working on it,” said volunteer Jean Mannin.

There are people who live to keep Eastlawn Cemetery a peaceful place. Volunteers do everything from burials to cutting the grass, and say they do it to keep it from going into the ground.

“They don't pay us anything and we don't expect anything,” Mannin said.

But what she saw Saturday morning was something she never expected. Pieces of the cemetery's storage shed on the ground, locks broken, and thousands of dollars in equipment gone.

“It just breaks my heart to know that this happened here,” she said.

But this isn't the first time Eastlawn has been hit. The first two times, thieves took 30 gallons of gas, leading them to believe they're being targeted. Dave Short does most of the grounds work at Eastlawn and said the latest theft is the worst.

“I’m frustrated mainly the fact that the cemetery struggles to do what it does. We don't have a lot of money to do it," he said. "And I’m just mad.”

Short bought the $11,000 mower a few months ago. He'd been meaning to put security around the shed and just ran out of money and time.

“The only good lock is a 12-gauge shot gun. And I can't sleep out here,” said Short.

But if there’s if there's a next time, he said they'll be ready. 

“I hope to heck they go and catch them, nail their butts and put them in jail,” added Mannin.

Volunteers plan to secure the doors with metal and iron,  but their goal is to get the lawn mower back.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers. You can remain anonymous and may earn a cash reward.

Champaign County Crime Stoppers
(217) 373 - TIPS
373tips.com
Text: CCTip + info to CRIMES (274637)
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