The steward of two large York County cemeteries is fighting back against vandals and thieves.
Jack Sommer, managing partner of Prospect Hill and Greenmount cemeteries in York, has teamed up with York County Crime Stoppers to get the word out about rewards for information about vandals' activities.
Vandalism doesn't happen all the time, but it can be devastating when hooligans strike, Sommer said.
For example, in 2013, a cemetery worker at Prospect Hill discovered that 32 headstones, some of which are at least 100 years old, had been knocked over.
And it happens all over the county, including recent incidents at cemeteries in Wrightsville and Hanover, Sommer said.
"Most of it is senseless, mindless vandalism," he said. "And it's unnecessary."
The reward: With the backing of Crime Stoppers, Sommer has launched a vandalism prevention campaign.
They are offering a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to the arrest of anyone involved in theft or vandalism in any county cemetery.
Sommer said he's hoping the campaign causes would-be vandals to think twice.
He has also paid for the printing of 100 signs that he's offering free to any York County cemetery.
The signs — about 20 of which will be posted at Prospect Hill and Greenmount — describe the reward campaign and the number to call to report vandals.
That number is (800) 722-0991, and the caller can remain anonymous. Reports can also be made by texting a tip to 274637 with keyword "Yorktips."
Cemetery owners can call Sommer at (717) 843-8006 to request a sign.
Sommer said he's hoping the stewards of small county cemeteries with small maintenance budgets take advantage of the signs.
"They're doing their best just to keep the grass mowed," Sommer said.
— Reach Erin James at firstname.lastname@example.org.