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Short on cash, California police department taps homeless man to watch cemetery

Police near Sacramento hire 58-year-old to look after cemetery

 

A cash-strapped California police department recruited a homeless man nicknamed "Shortstack" to keep watch over a cemetery that has seen $28,000 in vandalism damage over the last year, Fox40.com reported.

In exchange for keeping an eye on the Marysville Cemetery, Donald "Shortstack" Oliver, 58, will be allowed to live in a city-leased trailer overlooking the area.

Oliver, who has a slight build and long beard, has been homeless for three years. During that span, he maintained a solid relationship with local police and because of that, has been entrusted with protecting the cemetery that’s been around since 1850 -- before California was a state.

"You should respect the people who are buried here. Each life, every headstone has a story. It represents a life that's been lived and you should respect that," said Oliver.

Roberta Shurtz and volunteers from the Marysville Cemetery Commission are restoring old gravesites. She hopes that Oliver's presence will deter the vandalism problem that has plagued the cemetery for years. Shurtz said the last time there was an on-site caretaker was about 20 years ago.

"We're hoping it will prevent future vandalism," said Shurtz.

Oliver has already cleared away years of brush in his first week on the job. He'll keep a watch out for vandals after hours.

"I never thought in my lifetime I'd be overseeing a graveyard, but hey the good Lord has his ways," Oliver said.  

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