Nfld. & Labrador

Cemetery vandalism 'chronic problem' in St. John's

The Roman Catholic Church says it's impossible to secure graveyards because of the cost, and because mourners want to visit "all hours of the day and night."

Latest incident at Belvedere Cemetery investigated by police

One of several headstones knocked over at Belvedere Cemetery in St. John's. (Paula Gale/CBC)

Overturned headstones at Belvedere Cemetery in St. John's are nothing new, according to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. John's.

"There's not much you can do," said the church's director of cemeteries Gordon Holden. "It's a chronic problem."

The latest incident was reported to the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary on Oct. 6, with reports that two girls were seen toppling headstone markers in the graveyard off Newtown Road.

Holden said police told him Wednesday that two people were questioned, but he doesn't know whether charges will be laid.

One of the headstones, he said, was recently installed and the family was "very upset" that it was knocked over.

Families also have to bear the cost of repairs.

'Lots of places to hide'

Some of the damaged headstones were erected recently, and the Director of Cemeteries says the vandalism is very upsetting for families. (Paula Gale/CBC)

Holden said with four city graveyards and another due to open soon in Southlands, the "cash-strapped" church is not able to pay for extra security.

Previous attempts to control entry have also drawn fire.

"If you bar off the gates, you will get an uproar from people who visit all hours of the day or night," he said.

With 50 to 60 acres of land encompassing the church's cemeteries in the city, "there are lots of places to hide."

Holden said other churches have the same problem.

The Roman Catholic Church says vandalism happens all the time at graveyards around the city. (Paula Gale/CBC)