Prince George’s County police arrested two men who were caught Tuesday trying to sell bronze graveyard markers for scrap that they allegedly had taken from a Laurel cemetery, authorities said.
Nathaniel N. Keemer, 52, of the District, and Gregory L. Gooden, 43, of Landover, admitted to detectives that they had taken the graveyard markers — 11 in all — early Tuesday morning from Maryland National Memorial on Baltimore Avenue, according to the police report. The markers were being stored together in a barrel next to the cemetery’s work shed, according to the report.
Police were tipped to the scheme Wednesday, when a Capitol Heights scrap yard employee called a detective to say they men were trying to sell the markers, police said. Keemer initially told detectives he worked at the cemetery and was scrapping them on behalf of his manager, according to the report. The manager told detectives that no one had been given permission to sell the markers, according to the report.
Cpl. Henry Tippett, a Prince George’s County police spokesman, said the case was of particular interest to detectives because “it’s disturbing that someone would want to go steal something from a cemetery.” He said scrap metal is more typically stolen from other places, such as new housing developments.
Keemer and Gooden were charged with theft and other related counts in connection with the incident, online court records show. They admitted to taking the markers, which have an estimated value of about $3,000, according to the police report.
Jessica McDunn, a spokesperson for Service Corporation International, which runs Maryland National Memorial, said cemetery officials were conducting their own investigation of the incident. She said she did not know whether the markers were designated to particular grave, but family members who were concerned could call the cemetery.
“We hope that scrap metal dealers will continue to be watchful for people selling bronze medal vases and memorials from cemeteries,” McDunn said.