A St. Cloud woman was arrested on Thursday, accused of stealing items from a local cemetery.
Debra A. Farinella, 57, faces felony theft charges. Her arrest stems from a week-long investigation at Mount Peace Cemetery, located at 755 10th Street, where St. Cloud police officers said Farinella removed numerous items from various gravesites and then took them back to her house for display.
"It appears that she has been going to different gravesites," said Officer Chad Durham, spokesman for the St. Cloud Police Department. "She was not very particular. She would take them from baby gravesites, as well as adult gravesites."
Detectives served a search warrant at Farinella's home to recover the items, which included statues, lights, decorations and planters.
"Stuff had been stolen off. I went and replaced it, and like within two days, it was stolen again," said Pam Neal, who is heartbroken over the death of her 81-year-old mother back in November. She said having items stolen from her late mother's final resting place has made matters even worse. "My mom just died so it was fresh," she said. "You can always replace items, but it was just the respect issue, that's what I couldn't get over."
Neal, who works for St. Cloud Code Enforcement, isn't the only victim of grave site thefts. Investigators said there are five other families who were victimized with a whopping 146 items taken.
"Let's get these items back on the grave," said Officer Durham. "We know it means a lot to them and their families. Lets get these items back on the grave as soon as possible and return them back to their original ways."
Farinella was transported to the Osceola County Jail following her arrest.
If you or anyone you know are missing items from your loved one's gravesite, please contact the St. Cloud Police Department Criminal Investigations Unit at 407-891-6700.