Sunday, 10 June 2012

Masked, bushy-tailed cemetery flower bandit nabbed

For weeks, a bandit would pull flowers out of vases at Grand Forks' Memorial Park Cemetery, leaving behind no traces to help solve the mystery.

But the perpetrator has been nabbed. Turns out, it's a raccoon.

Robin Purcell, the Grand Forks Cemetery Association administrator, told the Grand Forks Herald ( that he apprehended the beady-eyed, bushy-tailed culprit Friday morning in a trap. He used cat food for bait.

The vandalism spree began two weeks before Memorial Day, making the situation more frustrating for Purcell and his staff as they prepared for the holiday. Every day for nearly a month, Purcell would arrive at Memorial Park to find flowers pulled out and set next to the vases.
"At first, we thought it was just a random occurrence," he said. "But then it happened the next day and continued for weeks."

Purcell and his staff first thought they were dealing with a human vandal.

"Normally, when people remove the flowers, they'll throw them away from the grave or just steal them," he said. "But these flowers were being laid next to the vases."

Purcell eventually suspected it was a critter, and moths and grubs found in the vases confirmed the suspicion.

He borrowed a trap from the game warden's office, but it turned up empty the following morning. A check of the trap Thursday morning produced no raccoon, either.

"He ate all the cat food we had in front of the trap but he didn't go into it," Purcell said.

But Purcell arrived Friday morning to find a metal box contained one wet, mud-covered raccoon.

Purcell suspects the accused may be part of a family, leaving the possibility that he has a few more suspects to catch before the flowers are safe again.

The bandit was sentenced to life in the countryside.

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