We have periodically discussed crimes involving grave robbing and how to punish such heinous acts. The latest such case is out of New Jersey where flowers were being taken from the First Reformed Church Cemetery in Pompton Plains and authorities decided to set up a surveillance camera. Police say that the camera captured Lynda Wingate, 59, in the act. She turns out to be a former police dispatcher and the owner of a floral shop.
Police say that Wingate may have been stealing flowers for months before they set up the camera. flower
Wingate reportedly claimed that she was cleaned up old flowers from graves of people she knew but police say that is untrue.
She now faces a charge of theft of moveable property.
What do you think should be the punishment for this crime? The public identification alone carries considerable stigma, though it is interesting that police in the prior Christmas wreath thefts from the Sunshine Farm in Massachusetts kept the identity of the thief out of the public. If found guilty, do you think that jail time is appropriate given the trauma for family in having flowers removed from a grave or simply community service?
25 thoughts on “New Jersey Florist Captured on Film Removing Flowers From Graves”
It’s difficult to quantify a criminal sanction based upon cultural outrage. While it is straightforward to levy sanctions based upon the market value of the flowers reportedly stolen, and possibly a comparative punishment with other forms of criminal trespass, arriving at a justifiable sanction for hurt feelings over the removal of flowers is not.
While I agree stealing flowers from a cemetery involves a more depraved mind than stealing them from a flower cart on a street, it is not a violation that is so egregious to justify a very harsh sentence. Stealing the bench, as one commenter mentioned, deserves a strong rebuke and one for the higher end of the sentencing range. Flowers? not so much.
But it seems apparent that if it can be proven the accused was a regular thief from the cemetery, she needs to be punished on that alone.
She should spend a couple days in jail I believe, but in her case a large fine or restitution should be imposed along with her being trespassed from the cemetery. Her primary intention in stealing the flowers was to avoid costs for her flower company. If a criminal case can be prosecuted against her floral company and shut it down for a few weeks that is a reasonable action also.
This seems like the kind of crime that – left unchecked – will lead to de-humanizing us all. The death of a loved one is an anguish we all share. It’s one profound experience that unites all humanity. Therefore, the law should protect the bereft from the predations of the inhumane. I think her photo and an accompanying article disclosing her “recycling” efforts should be posted on the door of her flower shop. And, she should be required to meet the families of those whose flowers she stole and make restitution to them in person.
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