The dead, of course, were not hurt by the vandalism at Hazelwood's Calvary Cemetery last week. It is the living who feel the pain of every wanton act of desecration in sacred places where loved ones have been put to rest.
Vandals toppled an estimated 85 tombstones at the historic Catholic Cemetery, leaving shattered headstones and beer cans in their wake. Families traumatized by the news that a loved one's grave site has been vandalized are now hit with the cost of restoring the marker.
This is why those who desecrate cemeteries, even if they're minors, should be subject to laws that recognize that breaking into mausoleums or smashing tombstones isn't a victimless crime or harmless prank. Historic graveyards like Calvary Cemetery are especially vulnerable to disturbed individuals who have little regard for the sacred.
Last month, vandals knocked over a statue of the Virgin Mary at St. Bernard Church in Mt. Lebanon. The number "666" was scrawled on its forehead in orange paint. You could almost hear the perpetrator snickering in the background at such a blasphemous act.
Once such vandals are caught, they have little to laugh about. Pennsylvania has upped the ante in penalties for these despicable crimes. In most states, vandalism is classified as a misdemeanor. In Pennsylvania, the destruction of religious, cemetery, school or municipal property is a third-degree felony with the possibility of seven years in prison and $15,000 in fines.
There is no reason to believe the latest vandals will get away with it. Like all criminals, the clues they've left behind will be sifted through and analyzed. There is a lot of interest in catching the culprits and punishing them to the fullest extent of the law.