Man robbed at cemetery in New Jersey

June 27, 2011 2:30:37 PM PDT
Police are investigating a robbery that took place inside a cemetery in New Jersey Sunday afternoon.

"He came behind, he put his arm like this and said give me your money and I said you've got to be kidding me," Esquillo Pigna said.

But it was no joke, was a real robbery at Rosedale Cemeter in Linden.

Pigna showed police, retraced the path he took through the Garden of Meditation mausoleum area Sunday afternoon.

The 70-year old was alone praying in front of his parents' crypt, when someone came up behind him and put him in a choke hold.

Esquilio was carrying 24-hundred dollars in cash.

"He took the money, unbuttoned my back pocket and took my wallet, threw me on the ground and ran," Pigna said.

Luckily, there were people two sections down who helped him call police.

"There's a lot of people who come here. If they can't be safe in a place like this, that's a shame. That's a shame. It shouldn't happen," Pigna said.

Detective Lieutenant James Sarnicki said more often than people think, that during the warmer weather, they respond to cemetery robberies several times a month.

"People come here to pay their respects. A lot of times they are only here a few minutes, leave their car unlocked, leave purses on the front seat, I just don't think people think they are going to be victimized in a cemetery," Sarnicki said.

As for Esquilio, he tells me, there's no way he's going to let this stop him from coming here to pay his respects to his family, but he adds, one thing will change.

"I won't come here alone. Someone will be here with me because you have to watch your back, don't know what's going to happen," he said.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Det. Eddie Adams at 908-474-8537 or email