Lincoln Cemetery, the resting place for more than 6,000 African Americans, requires frequent mowing to tame the nine-acre historic cemetery.
Sometime between Monday, April 24 and Tuesday, April 25, the cemetery’s bright red lawn mower was stolen from the property at 600 58th St. S.
“For us, this is devastating,” said Vanessa Gray, President of Lincoln Cemetery Society. “We can’t do anything because we don’t have the proper equipment.”
According to Gray, the machine was chained to a tree on the property, the steering wheel was locked and the mower was put in gear before the incident.
Yet, the vital equipment disappeared overnight.
“Whoever stole it must have picked it up in tow or somehow hotwired it,” Gray said.
Gray and a team of volunteers work regularly to pick up discarded trash and maintain the property, which was established in 1926 and has suffered long intervals of neglect. Without a proper lawn mower, the Florida heat and rain will turn the space into a jungle in no time.
Gray, who cleaned the cemetery for years before gaining ownership in 2017, accepted the mower as a donation from the 49th Street South Business Association in 2019.
In the last week, efforts have been made to trim the cemetery grounds with push mowers and a donated ride mower that is a few years past its prime.
“It’s been rough, considering our other donated mower is not in the best shape; the red mower was a brand new machine,” Gray said.
Thanks to volunteer sweat, the cemetery remains in order, but the team has little chance against mother nature without proper equipment.
“I won’t press charges, we just really need the mower back,” Gray said.
Gray asks that anyone wishing to donate either funds for a replacement or lend a ride-on mower contact her at 727- 623-7749.