Cemetery thief caught, pens apology letter

Man accused of robbing cemetery writes apology letter

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - For about a week, Louisville Metro police were on the lookout for a thief that committed a crime some called appalling.

The pictures are shocking.

In the light of day, a man can be seen on surveillance footage walking through St. Stephen’s Cemetery stealing flowers and other items right off of graves.

“It’s heartbreaking because these people have no voice, and this is the only thing their loved ones can do, is come out and give them a flower or an angel,” Susan Settles, a volunteer who maintains the cemetery, said.

Since last Sunday, Settles thought those precious mementos were gone forever, but then a call came into the LMPD tip line.

Police said James Reitz, 35, was charged with theft, and that they’d be returning what they say he stole.

“A family came in this morning, picked it up, and put it back,” Settles said.

Settles added a handful of other families stopped by Saturday to replace things like stolen flowers or angels.

As volunteers clean up the grounds getting the cemetery ready for Spring, they walk past roses now returned, but its something else the alleged thief is giving them that may make finding closure a little easier- a handwritten apology.

The letter states: “I’m so sorry for the pain I have caused so many people. I did not do it to hurt anyone.”

Settles said she doesn’t know exactly where all the items were placed. So, those who think they've had something stolen, are asked to contact the cemetery.

“At least he does feel remorse for it. I think that says something for him and may be a good lesson that he has learned,” Settles said.

A lesson she added she hopes others will take notice of in the future. So, that those buried below can rest in peace.

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