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New Jersey florist accused of stealing flowers off graves

A Riverdale, New Jersey, flower shop owner was arrested Monday night after a video allegedly captured her taking plants and flowers from a cemetery.

For the past several months, the Riverdale Police Department supposedly received multiple reports involving missing plants and items at the First Reformed Church Cemetery. Police replaced two of the plants on April 21 in addition to installing surveillance cameras in the area, according to WCBS.

Police got involved again two days later when property managers of the Pompton Plains graveyard reported that the two replaced plants had vanished. Referring to video footage, police instantly recognized Lynda S. Wingate, 59, a former police dispatcher and current owner of a flower shop. Wingate was allegedly taped exiting her silver minivan before taking the plants located outside of a mausoleum, the Morristown Patch reported.

The 59-year-old allegedly told detectives that she was not stealing but cleaning up around tombstones of people she knew, according to WPIX.

“It just simply wasn’t the case. We just had those flowers placed there,” Pequannock Police Captain Christopher Depuyt told the station. “We just had flowers placed there two days prior. These weren’t old flowers. They weren’t garbage ready to be thrown out.”

NJ.com reported that Capt. Depuyt said that police don’t have evidence that the flower shop owner was reselling the plants and flowers. Authorities haven’t disclosed how many plants they believed Wingate stole.

Wingate was arrested and charged with theft of moveable property, according to a press release. The Riverdale woman is due in municipal court on May 8th.

[Featured Image: Pequannock Township Police Department]