AUBURN (CBS13) — Two gates are missing from the Chinese Cemetery in Auburn. And the owners say this is not the first time it’s happened.
“We doubt if we’re going to get it back,” said Ken Tokutomi.
The 2.5-acre burial site dates back to the 19th century. Cemetery owner Richard Yue told CBS13 his grandfather Charlie bought the land back in 1899 for a $10 piece of gold. It’s managed by the Joss House Museum, a cultural center in Old Town Auburn dedicated to remembering Chinese immigrants who settled in the area.
Tokutomi is the museum’s treasurer.
“You’re desecrating holy ground, basically!” he told CBS13.
The gates cost about $900. But this won’t be the first time they’ll have to be replaced!
“This is the second time it’s happened,” Tokutomi said. “It happened a couple of years ago!”
The replacement gates, roughly 4 feet by 5 feet, were just put in two months ago.
“It’s horrible,” said Cody Anderson, a Placer High School student who volunteers at the cemetery. “I don’t understand why people would take that gate!”
He and his sister Courtney made the discovery. The teens are members of the Future Farmers of America and have 7 lambs who eat the overgrown grass in the cemetery.
“We come regularly to maintain and work the sheep,” Cody said.
“Me and my brother drove by and we saw the gate was missing,” Courtney said. “I was worried about my lambs getting out and going onto the highway.”
The two called Tokutomi around 11:30 Sunday morning.
“And they said ‘Well, the gate is gone!’” Tokutomi recounted. “And I said ‘Well, it must have gotten stolen!’ The way we installed it there was no welds on it to be able to hold it in.”
The Placer County Sheriff’s Office came out to investigate but Tokutomi said none of the surrounding businesses had any surveillance video or any tips.
Luckily, the lambs were unharmed and Tokutomi still has faith they can replace the gates once again.
“It’s sad that it happens but out of any disaster comes beautiful things,” he told CBS13.
Tokutomi said they’ve already had someone volunteer to help rebuild the gate. Now, they plan to start a GoFundMe account to raise money to buy a new one.