Police arrest Belfast woman in connection with cemetery thefts
Belfast — Police charged a Belfast woman with theft following an incident at Grove Cemetery over the weekend after receiving an anonymous tip.
Belfast Police Chief Michael McFadden said Joyce Christie, 62, of Belfast was arrested Sept. 4 and charged with felony-level theft, as well as other charges relating to defacing grave sites.
Over Labor Day weekend, several solar lights, decorations and flowers were reported stolen from graves at Grove Cemetery. An anonymous tipper called the Belfast Police Department after several local media sites published stories in which McFadden called on the community for help solving the case.
"I think this illustrates how the police, local media and the community can all work together to make our little corner of the world a little better," McFadden said.
The tipper reported recently seeing Christie pushing a shopping cart containing plants and solar lights up Route 141 in Belfast, he said.
Officer Michael Rolerson and Cemetery Superintendent Steve Boguen went to Christie's home in Belfast and found the stolen items outside her home, McFadden said. Boguen was also a victim of the recent theft. A "one-of-a-kind" hand-made decorative glass ball was taken from his wife's grave, according to police. Boguen was able to identify the item at Christie's home, McFadden said.
Christie was not at home when Rolerson and Boguen found the stolen property, but Rolerson made contact with her at a local restaurant, where she confessed to taking the items, McFadden said. Police brought Christie back to her home where she showed them the items she had taken, he said.
McFadden said there were several similar thefts earlier this summer and the department responded by increasing patrols in the area. The increased patrols seemed to help, McFadden said, and the problem abated until the Labor Day incident.
Boguen said he was thankful the stolen property had been found, and hopes to have security cameras installed to prevent further theft.