Compton’s Lincoln Memorial Park
Authorities are continuing their investigation into a burglary and vandalism at a Carson cemetery that was targeted by thieves who took more than 100 name plaques from some final resting places.
The crime occurred on Jan. 12 at Lincoln Memorial Park in the 16700 block of South Central Avenue, not far from Woodlawn Celestial Gardens in Compton, which was targeted about a week earlier, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and KCAL9.
“The thought of someone even picking a cemetery to rob ... was utterly disgusting to me,” Aisha Woods, a community advocate living in Carson, told Channel 9.
Woods pointed out the missing name plaques throughout the cemetery, which were taken during an early morning burglary on Jan. 12.
“It takes a lot of force to pry this off,” Woods said, displaying one plaque that was bent out of shape but not completely removed from the wall.
She also pointed out the now-missing face of a memorial for African-American soldiers who were killed in World War II that was donated by boxer Joe Louis in 1944.
Lincoln Memorial Park was one of the first integrated cemeteries in Los Angeles County, with some veterans dating back to the Civil War laid to rest on the grounds. Similar to the first theft, it seems that the thieves are after anything bronze, which Woods believes they’re pawning off to resellers or recycling companies.
Woods is one of a group of volunteers who have taken over the groundskeeping at the cemetery after owners were forced to surrender their license last year. She said she knows everything that’s supposed to be there, noticing each missing plaque.
She said the suspects left behind some tools that they apparently used when they returned to the cemetery late on Jan. 13, which she believes was their latest attempt to take a large bust of President Abraham Lincoln.
The suspects apparently used some type of fluid to remove patina from the bust to determine what sort of metal it’s made out of.
In the meantime, Woods says that families stopping by have instead placed pieces of tape on their loved ones’ graves to replace the now missing plaques.
About a week earlier, suspects vandalized a Compton cemetery and stole some bronze grave markers, likely in hopes of selling the metal. The crime occurred at Woodlawn Celestial Gardens in the 1700 block of West Greenleaf Boulevard, according to the sheriff’s department.
“This is not right, Woodlawn, we want love and peace,” owner Celestina Bishop told KCAL9. “This is not peaceful, this is not loving.”
Bishop, who funds the upkeep of the cemetery, discovered the shattered remains of many grave sites last Thursday. The vandals also stole multiple plaques.
She believes the suspects cut through a fence and started smashing grave markers, and that they wanted the bronze from the tombstones to sell to recyclers.
“This is supposed to be sacred land, and people are supposed to be at eternal rest,” Bishop said.
No arrests have been reported. Anyone with information on the crimes was urged to call the sheriff’s Compton Station at (310) 605-6500 or the Carson Station at (310) 830-1123.