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Long IslandCrime

Pokémon Go players may have vandalized Southampton gravestones

Vandals toppled about two dozen tombstones, including this

Vandals toppled about two dozen tombstones, including this one seen on Monday, Sept. 13, 2016, at cemeteries in Southampton that are operated by Sacred Heart of Jesus Church. Credit: Newsday / Lisa Irizarry

The reinstallation of nearly a dozen Southampton Cemetery gravestones that police suspect were toppled by vandals during the Labor Day weekend is expected to be completed by Friday.

Southampton Town police are still seeking suspects in the case. They said those involved may have been Pokémon Go players seen in the area of the Southampton Town cemetery and a Catholic church’s adjoining private burial ground. The vandalism is believed to have taken place between the afternoon of Sept. 3 and the morning of Sept. 6.

“We are following up on leads,” Southampton Town Police Lt. Susan Ralph said in a telephone interview Wednesday. “There is information that possibly the Pokémon game was involved. We’re actively looking into that aspect. We have information that people were in the cemetery playing that game.”

Ralph added that there are no descriptions of the suspects. She said that police still plan to offer a reward through the Crime Stoppers program, but that the details and amount are still being discussed.

Tom Fricke, vice president of Alan E. Fricke Memorials Inc., which has locations in Ronkonkoma, Medford and Center Moriches, said he will do the reinstallations on the 10 gravestones at the Southampton Cemetery for a discounted rate of about $1,400. The work is expected to begin Thursday.

“We’re not going to be asking the families for any money,” said Eric Wright, superintendent for the cemetery. “We’re just going to pay him and get this done,” adding that perhaps Southampton would be reimbursed through a state insurance fund for cemeteries.

The vandalism also involved the overturning of 21 gravestones in an adjoining cemetery owned by The Basilica of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. Both burial sites were established in the 1800s, but the gravestones at the church cemetery were all reinstalled for free last week by Kenneth Rothwell, owner of O’Connell Funeral Home in Southampton.

Former heavyweight boxing champion Jack Dempsey is buried in Southampton Cemetery, and Academy Award-winning actor Gary Cooper, who attended The Basilica, was laid to rest in its cemetery. Those gravesites were not involved in the vandalism.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Southampton police at 631-728-3400. All information will be kept confidential.


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