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Thieves Hit Parked Cars At Stockton Cemetery During Funeral Services

STOCKTON (CBS13) – Visitors to a Catholic cemetery in Stockton are being taken advantage of in their most vulnerable moments.

The San Joaquin Catholic Cemetery staff says multiple cars have been broken into while their owners aren't paying attention. Visitors come to the cemetery to mourn loved ones or attend funeral services and when they go back to their vehicles they've found windows shattered and belongings stolen.

The cemetery has several surveillance cameras spread across their property as well as warning signs to potential thieves but since the cemetery is open to the public during business hours, the staff says it's difficult to keep criminals out.

Albert Vigil is the director of the cemetery. He says the break-ins have been happening over the last two weeks.

"They have a little tool and that window just shatters, and they just grab and go," Vigil said.

Vigil said the thieves are taking advantage of people who are mourning their loved ones.

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"Especially when they're coming to a funeral service to bury their loved one, that's the furthest thing from their mind," Vigil said.

When their backs are turned, the thieves make their move. Vigil said the suspects keep their car close by so they can hop in and leave quickly.

Plenty of families come to the cemetery to mourn and some that spoke with CBS13 say for a crime like that to happen in a place like this makes their grieving process even more difficult.

Michael Peneyra and his brother lost their father in 1996. This cemetery is a place of peace for them.  "When I come here, sometimes I carry burdens that I can only let go right here," Peneyra said.

Jose Zamudio comes to the cemetery often to visit the people he's lost.

"I'm just trying to visit my family and here you go, someone knocking your day down by coming and stealing from you when you're just visiting a loved one," Zamudio said.

Now he says he'll be extra careful even though he wishes he didn't have to be.

The Stockton Police Department is aware of the thefts and the cemetery has stepped up their security efforts.

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