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Ottumwa Cemetery left vandalized after tractor was taken for joyride

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By Jefferson Tyler, Multimedia Journalist

OTTUMWA, IA (KYOU) – Police are looking for leads in an alleged joyride and attempted theft at a cemetery in Ottumwa.

“The blade has been taken off so we can roll it back over. But we got lucky they didn’t bend any of the front loader parts,” said Memorial Cemetery groundskeeper Chuck Cobler. He came into work in Ottumwa on Sunday. And saw the tractor turned over.

“We usually park the tractor over here. But when we came in we saw that it was gone. The gentleman over here was walking and saw the tractor over on its side,” said Cobler.

Ottumwa Police responded. A cemetery, where the memory of loved ones are preserved was violated.

“The police came out and looked at it. Said it looked like someone had been joyriding. And they tried to go up the big embankment. And the tractor wouldn’t make it. So they tried to come another way. So they made it to the top. And then when they tried to come back down. They couldn’t get it straight, and they rolled it,” said Cobler.
Shrine of Memories Funeral Home which watches over the property, says in previous months, memorial vases have been stolen, and flowers taken from grave sites.

“It’s disrespectful for the people who are buried here and their families,” said Cobler.
The motive for taking the tractor is still murky.
“I don’t know if they were going for a joyride or they were actually trying to get it out of here to sell,” said Cobler.

For him, the message is clear.
“When I was growing up this was always a sacred thing for me. The burial and the services. And some people just don’t care,” said Cobler.

It may not matter to those who committed the crime. But for Cobler and the families of those laid to rest, this matters.

The Ottumwa Police say that any individuals with information in the case are encouraged to contact the Ottumwa Police Department.

Copyright 2016 KYOU. All rights reserved.

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