Items moved by Port Macquarie-Hastings Council from Laurieton Cemetery during maintenance

Missing vase: When Penn recently discovered her mother’s vase was missing she assumed it had been stolen and called the police to report it. She later discovered it had been moved by council.
Missing vase: When Penn recently discovered her mother’s vase was missing she assumed it had been stolen and called the police to report it. She later discovered it had been moved by council.

Related Content: 

Anger over theft of flowers from gravesite

Port Macquarie resident Penn Short says she found out that vases are not being stolen from the Laurieton Cemetery; instead council staff are taking them to a shipping container when maintenance is being carried out. 

Penn’s mother is buried at the cemetery and she said the vase at the graveside had been there for nine years and caused no problems to staff during that time.

When she recently discovered her mother’s vase was missing she assumed it had been stolen and called the police to report it. 

She later found out by phoning and questioning the council that it been moved to a shipping container by council staff during maintenance on the cemetery. 

“There are other vases there which have suffered the same fate,” she said. 

“I wanted to alert others who have loved ones buried in the cemetery to the possibility that their vases may be in the locked shipping container too.” 

Penn said she considered it disrespectful of council to remove people’s property without any notice. 

“Council needs to give notice otherwise people like me will just assume their vase has been stolen and ring the police,” she said. 

On special occasions such as her mother's birthday, Penn likes to put fresh bunches of native flowers in the special vase at her graveside, as her way of honouring her mother Nancy.

“Having a vase there means that other visiting family members and friends can also bring flowers,” she said. 

Penn said as people pay for the location in the cemetery it should be up to them to control what is put there, as long as they are keeping items clear of the grass which needs to be mowed.

“It’s important that council respect people’s ritual and how they choose to acknowledge their continued caring for the person they have lost.” 

Port Macquarie Hastings Council Commercial Business Units group manager Ashley Grummitt said policy requires that for safety reasons, glass and ceramic items not be placed at memorial sites.

“Signage is in place at all cemeteries across the region advising of this policy,”  he said.

“These items pose a serious health and safety risk for both staff and visitors when maintenance duties are being carried out, and where mowers and whipper snippers need to be used very close to headstones.

“Where necessary, items will be removed during maintenance works, clearly labelled and stored.”

Mr Grummitt said items can be arranged for collection by family members by contacting council on 6581 8111.