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Gravestones vandalized
Claflin cemetery damaged over Christmas weekend
resetting headstones
Rick Hickel, Claflin, works to reset a headstone at Pleasant View Cemetery north of town Tuesday afternoon. According to reports, at least 16 monuments were toppled by a person or persons unknown during the Christmas weekend. - photo by Michael Gilmore

CLAFLIN — Authorities are investigating a criminal damage to property that occurred sometime between Christmas Eve Friday and Christmas Day at Pleasant View Cemetery, 1161 NE 130 Ave., Claflin.

Mike Urban, cemetery caretaker and mayor of Claflin, was informed of several monuments that appeared to have been toppled over the holiday weekend. 

When he went out to investigate, he observed that 16 stones had been overturned. 

Urban then informed the city administrator, Claflin police department and Barton County Sheriff’s Office to determine whether damage was confined to the cemetery grounds.

Monday morning, BCSO responded to the report. In addition to evidence left on the stones themselves, tire tracks and boot prints near the toppled stones are also believed to be related to the weekend’s criminal activity.

Urban, who operates a monument company in the community, was on the cemetery grounds Tuesday, taking note of damage and replacing the headstones along with assistant Rick Hickel. “It looks random, but those involved were probably looking for the ones that were easiest to topple over,” Urban said. “It would have taken quite a bit of effort to knock over some of them.” 

Urban noted that he had contacted the insurance company, but as yet no cost estimate on the damage was available.

“Most of the cost will be in getting the stones picked back up and reset,” Urban said. He noted that several stones had been damaged. “Some folks won’t know that it costs just about as much to reset a stone as it does to set it in the first place,” he said. “I just can’t imagine why someone would want to do something like this, especially during Christmas.”

Investigation of the incident is ongoing and has been reported to Crime Stoppers of Great Bend and Barton County. Persons with information about this or any other crime can call 620-792-1300 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to leave an anonymous tip. Outside of Great Bend, the toll-free number is 888-305-1300. Online tips may be made from a computer or smartphone by going to P3 Global Intel’s website, p3tips.com. The P3 Tips app is available for Apple and Android phones.

broken stone
Much of the damage was slight, but some of the older stones were severely broken in the weekend's occurrence. - photo by Michael Gilmore