New Jersey

Flower Shop Owner Accused of Stealing Plants From Graves at New Jersey Cemetery

Over the last few months, police say multiple people have reported plants stolen from graves

A 59-year-old flower shop owner has been arrested for allegedly stealing plants and other items from graves at a New Jersey cemetery, possibly for months.

Police say they'd been getting reports for some time of thefts at First Reformed Church Cemetery in Pompton Plains. Authorities replaced two of the missing plants in front of a mausoleum and installed surveillance cameras in the area last week. Two days later, police got a call that the plants were missing again. 

Detectives checked out the surveillance footage and saw a woman approach the mausoleum in a silver minivan, get out of the vehicle and take the plants. Authorities were able to identify the suspect as Lynda Wingate, a former police dispatcher and flower shop owner in nearby Riverdale. 

She was arrested on a charge of theft of moveable property and released pending an appearance in municipal court. Attorney information wasn't known, and someone at her listed address turned away a reporter.

Capt. Christopher DePuyt says Wingate claimed she was cleaning up old flowers from graves of people she knew, but he says that isn't the case, according to The Associated Press.

Police didn't say if they believed Wingate had resold the other flowers or if any of the previously stolen ones had been recovered.

"It's not the crime of the century. It's a minor crime, but one that shocks the conscience, and it won't be tolerated," DePuyt told News 4. 

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