Man Sets Up Cameras, Helps Catch Grave Site Thief

Meghan McRoberts

OMAHA (KPTM)- Police arrested a woman Monday night after they say she stole wreaths, flowers, and decorations off of at least one grave site in Council Bluffs for months.

Iileen Wallace faces charges for trespassing and theft.

Police say it's more common for people to steal things from graves of monetary value, such as copper or other metals. Doug Lantry says what Wallace stole from his wife's grave had more sentimental value.

His wife, Anna, died just over 5 months ago from cancer. Lantry says they were married for "41 years, 4 months, 4 days. She was a wonderful Mother."

Lantry visits her grave everyday at the Ridgewood Cemetery. "I just come up to visit, usually clean the head stone off and the bench and clean off any branches laying around and just sit and visit."

During one of his visits in August, he noticed some of the wreaths and decorations were missing. "It was frustrating, it was aggravating, I was mad as heck," said Lantry.

Lantry says he caught a woman red handed afternoon that he believes was Wallace. "I was sitting on this bench one day and saw a lady pull up on the hill. She got out of her car and went to a grave, picked up some flowers and left. My thought was she just stole those flowers!"

Lantry tried to catch up with her before she drove off. Afterwards, he kept watch himself, sometimes for hours a day. Because he couldn't always keep a watch over Anna's grave, he installed deer cameras nearby that take pictures whenever they track motion.

Lantry said he noticed in the pictures that every time Wallace was there, something went missing. Ground keepers also caught her taking a wreath from another grave site on a camera phone.

"I Thought she was about the lowest life type of person I could imagine," said Lantry.

Lantry hopes now that Wallace was caught, he and his wife's grave will be left in peace.

Lantry plans to leave the cameras in place. Police say Wallace would be arrested again if she tries to go back to the cemetery.