ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – There's a neighborhood crime alert in St. Augustine, where the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office is investigating after a grave was desecrated.
It happened inside the San Lorenzo Cemetery, which is owned by the Catholic Church, on U.S. Highway 1 South.
Donna McNary said she went to lay flowers at her mother's grave Monday morning when she discovered the site had been damaged by vandals -- again.
“It was frustrating. I just went to the ground and cried. I didn’t know what to do," the 67-year-old woman recalled to News4Jax the next day. “I found that a little statue of an angel that has been on her grave for eight years was completely smashed.”
In addition to the smashed statue, McNary said, a hole was dug and the nameplate was also damaged.
McNary said it wasn't the first time it's happened.
“This is the fourth time in five years there has been something wrong with my mother’s grave," she said. "I have many friends who have relatives and friends who are buried here and they're all worried now. It's out there -- everybody knows it's happening."
McNary said vandalism at the cemetery could be prevented if certain security measures could be put in place.
"Maybe a fence, maybe some security lighting or cameras -- something to protect the graves," she said.
The Diocese of St. Augustine, which owns the cemetery, said it's working to prevent more acts of vandalism.
A diocese spokesperson told News4Jax on Tuesday that plans are in place to install a new fence, saying a design for the fence has been completed and a contractor will be pulling a permit for the work next work.
The spokesperson added that there are no intentions of locking the cemetery down after normal business hours because people visit loved ones at all hours.
According to the spokesperson, the diocese is also considering installing a security camera and will ask the Sheriff’s Office to patrol the cemetery at night.