LOCKPORT, Ill. (WLS) --Lockport police are investigating 79 headstones that were toppled over or broken into pieces at Lockport Cemetery. The cemetery dates back to 1854.
There is heartbreak and outrage at the desecration of those final resting places.
"I can't emphasize how upset people were when they heard about it; if they have their family members here, how they flocked out here to find out what was going on. So it really does hurt deeply for people that have loved ones here," says Lockport Mayor Seven Streit.
Some of the destroyed headstones date back to the mid-1800s and are irreplaceable.
"When they crack and you put them back together, it just doesn't fit," Mayor Streit says. "It's just maddening to begin with that you have to do it at all."
Police say the vandalism happened between Friday night and Saturday morning, over Memorial Day Weekend which is a time to honor veterans. Several Lockport war veterans are buried at the cemetery, including one who served in the War of 1812 and another who served in the Civil War.
Mayor Streit has a message for the person or people responsible:
"We are looking for you. We have a very good police department, but most of all I'd rather that person come to understand just the importance of a place like this and the heritage that we have here, and embrace it instead of trying to destroy it," he says.
Crimestoppers is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information in this case. The mayor says a local contractor has offered to try to piece together some of these headstones, but some are so old that's going to be a tough job.