Stolen cemetery shrub found

OKEECHOBEE — It appears the shrub pulled out of the ground near the entrance to Evergreen Cemetery by vandals has been found.

“They brought the bush from the cemetery and stuck it in my culvert,” said John Eisenberg, in a phone interview Friday, July 14.

Stolen shrub was found in the neighbor’s culvert.

Vandals on an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) pulled up the shrub sometime Wednesday night, July 12. They also backed up to another shrub and tried to push it over. They did the same thing to a young palm tree on the opposite side of the entrance.

The damage to Mr. Eisenberg’s property in the 2100 block of N.E. 39th Boulevard also occurred sometime Wednesday night.

He reportedly told Deputy Nathaniel Mitchell, of the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO), he had been working on his property and spent $8,000 putting in new culverts.

The deputy indicated in his report that he met with Mr. Eisenberg around 1:30 p.m. Thursday, July 13.

Mr. Eisenberg, who lives in Port St. Lucie but is preparing to build a home on his N.E. 39th Blvd. lot, said he had also put reflectors in the ground to mark where work had been completed. But, to the vandal, these were just something more to destroy.

“The reflectors were thrown about the property,” he said, adding he also found some of his reflectors in a tree. “This happened before when they ran over the reflectors.”

But what bothers Mr. Eisenberg the most is the vandals are riding their ATV on the new culverts.

“We put a lot of work into getting the culvert back in place, but they keep riding up and down it. We even put material around the culvert so it wouldn’t be undermined, but they keep driving up and down it,” he said.

Like Mr. Eisenberg, this week’s vandalism at Evergreen Cemetery wasn’t the first it’s happened.

“We do have a problem out here. It’s been off and on in the past years. But, in the last week or two, it seems to have started up again,” said Russell Rowland, assistant to the county administrator, in an interview Thursday. “The damage last night was outside the gates and after hours. At this point we haven’t found any damage inside the gates.”

As with Mr. Eisenberg’s case, Mr. Rowland said it won’t cost much to repair the damage done around the cemetery’s entrance. But what really bothered him was the level of disrespect shown by the vandals.

“It’s just the idea of destroying property at a cemetery — that’s pretty bad. It’s disrespectful to the people buried in the cemetery, and their families,” he said.

Eric Kopp is a staff writer for the Okeechobee News

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