The mysterious case of the missing Lake Ronkonkoma Cemetery sign was solved Friday almost as soon as it began.
Reports of the historical marker’s disappearance, it turned out, were greatly exaggerated.
Suffolk police said Friday morning that the sign had been stolen and was last seen on Sunday.
Within hours, police issued a second statement saying the sign, valued at more than $2,900, was not stolen.
“An investigation by Fourth Squad detectives has determined that the historic sign that was reported stolen was legally removed,” police said in the brief update.
Cemetery officials said the graveyard’s board of directors had voted earlier this month to remove the sign.
The marker was taken down Thursday and given to Suffolk Legis. Tom Muratore (R-Ronkonkoma), who had paid for the sign to be made several years ago at the request of the Lake Ronkonkoma Heritage Association, a local history group.
A police spokeswoman said a member of the heritage association had reported that the sign had been stolen from the graveyard on Hawkins Avenue in Lake Grove Village. The spokeswoman would not further identify the association member.
Heritage association president Ellyn Okvist did not return calls for comment.
Police determined the case to be “noncriminal” and closed the matter Friday afternoon, the spokeswoman said.
Cemetery board president Joseph Weber said the sign was removed because it had been erected by the heritage association without the board’s permission.
Weber said signs on cemetery grounds must be authorized by the board and the New York Department of State’s Division of Cemeteries.
Mercedes Padilla, a Department of State spokeswoman, said the Division of Cemeteries “had no role in the removal of the sign. This was the result of a decision made by the cemetery’s board. It appears that this was the result of local action.”
Weber said the heritage association was notified by certified and regular mail that the sign would be removed. When no one from the group responded, the sign was taken down, he said.
Muratore said he would keep the sign while the heritage association and cemetery officials decide whether they want it.
“I figured, let me safeguard it in case there’s a change,” he said in an interview.
CORRECTION: The Lake Ronkonkoma Cemetery’s board voted to remove the sign. Another organization was misidentified in an earlier version of the story.