Woman's car burglarized at Oakland cemetery while leaving flowers at mother's grave

Cathy Martinsen of Lafayette said a day to honor her late mother turned into a frightening experience when she was burglarized at an Oakland cemetery.

"Your stomach just drops," said Martinsen.

This happened February 1st at St. Mary Cemetery in Rockridge. Martinsen parked inside the gates near the front office just before 5 p.m. when it was still light out. She walked a short distance up a hill to drop flowers and a card at her mother’s gravesite for her birthday, when she heard her car alarm blaring.

"Within two minutes I heard the alarm of my car going off," said Martinsen. "I looked down and saw there was a car parked next to mine where there hadn’t been prior. And I realized it was a smash and grab."

Martinsen found her car window smashed, and her purse and backpack gone.

"It’s like, is nothing sacred? I’m going to wish my mom a happy birthday, a heavenly happy birthday. And they prey on people anywhere, obviously. It’s frightening," said Martinsen.

She tried to chase the suspects, but they sped off. Within minutes, she was getting calls from fraud prevention services because someone was trying to charge big purchases on her credit cards.

Martinsen said she called police and filed a report. She also tried to track down surveillance video but was told by a worker at the cemetery they didn’t have any. She said this has been a blow financially, and emotionally it has been devastating. Worst of all, she missed her special moment with her mom. "I like to sing happy birthday I know that’s silly. But I couldn’t even get that off." said Martinsen.

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Martinsen grew up in the Oakland and Berkeley hills area but said she is now reluctant to come back alone because of rampant crime. She wants to warn others that not even mourning peacefully at a cemetery is safe, and urges police to hold people accountable for these types of crimes.

"I wish people would be nicer and I wish police could do something about all of this because it’s sad," said Martinsen. "I have friends who live in Oakland they say they never leave anything in their cars. They know. It’s like, wow is that how we want to think of our community and our city? That’s pretty pathetic, actually."

KTVU contacted the Oakland Police Department. A spokesperson confirmed a report was taken but could not provide additional information. We also reached out to Catholic Funeral & Cemetery Services of the Diocese of Oakland to see if they plan to increase security at the cemetery but have not heard back.

Martinsen said she hopes someone might find her belongings. She is missing a Roka gray backpack that had workout equipment inside as well as an iPad. She is also missing her purse and wallet.