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Metal thieves pry and cut $10,000 worth of metal from park, cemetery
A Mountain View Cemetery employee noticed something amiss at Centennial Viewpoint Park when he started work at 8 a.m. last Thursday.
He asked cemetery manager Craig Hudson to come and have a look.
In the parking lot gravel the men found a saw blade that metal thieves had used the night before to cut the doweling that fits into the gate hinge posts.
The posts were still there — the gates were gone.
Another unhappy find: sections of wrought iron above the cemetery's sandstone masonry wall and above a sign were missing from the section of the cemetery directly across from the park.
Evidence showed that thieves had tried to take more of the fencing but the wall's sturdiness at that point thwarted them.
"We noticed there was a tow strap on the end part of that fencing that had snapped and tire tracks in the landscaping outside the gates," Hudson said. "Someone had tried to pull some more of the wrought iron fencing down and damaged brick work in the process."
Hudson estimates the damage at $10,000.
"It's frustrating, especially knowing they are going to get pennies on the dollar for that, if a scrap yard will accept that somewhere." Hudson said of the metal thieves.
The City of Auburn has already filed an insurance claim, but there's no telling how long it will take to process, Hudson said.
"We're hoping to get the fencing back up and finished by Memorial Day," Hudson said. "As for the gates on the park, I think we'll do something different than the original wrought iron, something a bit more substantial so that doesn't happen again.
"I checked the fence to see if they had loosened it in case they want to come back, but that's in there really well, so we're at least glad that that portion stayed in. That fencing on top of that sandstone brick work down there, however, was loose enough they were able to pull it out of the wall."
Hudson, recalling the theft not so long ago of the park deer sculpture, "The Long Look" — it has since been replaced — worries that the thieves may return to finish what they started.
"When we found out that the gates to the park were missing," Hudson said, "obviously we called the police department and they stepped up patrols over the weekend because we were a little worried about the deer that was stolen. It's troubling. That park doesn't have any eyes on it, and there are no houses there."