Metal thieves targeting loved ones' final resting place

February 26, 2013 3:45:16 PM PST
Families mourning the loss of a loved one are in shock, victimized by thieves targeting cemeteries. Similar thefts have happened across the city.

Families with loved ones in Woodlawn Cemetery are finding out those thieves are ripping metal vases from some grave markers. Investigators say the vases are possibly being sold as scrap.

At Woodlawn Cemetery, families are placing flowers for loved ones. But at some of these grave sites, there's a big problem that isn't so obvious at first. Dozens of bronze and brass vases are missing. Workers say some unknown thieves have been busy stealing vases from gravesites.

Scott Cheffey, general manager of Woodlawn Funeral Home and Cemetery, explained, "They're easily accessible. They just yank them right out of the bronze marker and they sell them for scrap."

Cheffey says the thieves have already hit several parts of this property.

"Probably 15 families or so a month call us or come into our office and tell us, hey our vase is gone," he said.

Just last week, workers say thieves popped the cemetery's lock. The thieves got away with several metal vases before the grounds crews arrived.

"It's been an issue that we are trying to address," Cheffey said. "It's just a challenge on how to really keep tabs on it."

Cheffey says these types of metal thefts are happening at cemeteries across the area. He says these metal vases retail at about $175. Local scrap metal dealers say bronze and brass sells for about $1.75 to $3 per pound right now.

"I just don't know what internally we can do," Cheffey said. "We're open to suggestions."

Houston police say these metal thefts are happening sporadically. But Harris County deputies say they're getting regular reports about this crime. They're asking anyone with information to call Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.

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