First Posted: 7/10/2009
PILOT MOUNTAIN Area funeral homes are on the lookout for gravesite tents disassembled and removed from the graves without permission.
Cox-Needham Funeral Home in Pilot Mountain and Hayworth-Miller of Rural Hall both have become victims of the alleged thefts of three funeral tents within the past week, all in the greater Pilot Mountain area.
My history in law enforcement makes me assume they are using the scrap aluminum for drug money, said A.J. Daoud, one of the owners of Cox-Needham, which has been victim to two of the thefts.
The tents were taken after the funerals were held, during the traditional few days following the funeral when the tents remain over the graves.
There is no resale value in these, Daoud said, in disbelief that someone would take something off of a grave. We ran into this earlier in my career when they were stealing bronze flower holders and grave markers.
Cox-Needhams tents were taken from the Brims Grove Baptist Church cemetery off N.C. 268 in the Westfield community of Stokes County and from the Pine Hill Friends cemetery on N.C. 268 west of Pilot Mountain. Hayworth-Millers tent was taken from the Old Pine Hill Friends cemetery, also on N.C. 268 just down the street from the other Friends cemetery.
Thats about two grand stole, and the value is not maybe 30 bucks, because aluminum is 15 cents a pound according to my friend who is in the scrap metal business, said Wes George, operations handler for Cox-Needham.
Theyre taking the tops with our logos on them, he said. When they steal from a graveyard, they are desperate.
George said it isnt easy to take the tents down either, adding that even he has been hit in the head by the center pole when disassembling one before.
We have told both Stokes and Surry sheriffs offices and Ive called the Pilot Mountain Police Department, he said. Stokes said they are going to try some type of surveillance camera.
The tents are left up for three to six days following funeral services, George explained. It is respect and tradition and the old school way of doing it. It is three to six days usually, but Ive had some families ask for a couple of weeks.
It isnt unusual for a funeral home to have as many as five or more tents out at graveyards, George said.
It is making the tent company happy, but not our insurance company, he said of the expensive replacement tents being purchased.
So far, Cox-Needham and Hayworth-Miller are the only victims, George said, after calling the other funeral homes to warn them of whats happened.
I want this to stop, he said.
Contact Wendy Byerly Wood at [email protected] or 719-1923.