Chesterfield Police investigate possible vase thefts - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Chesterfield Police investigate possible vase thefts

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) -

Chesterfield police are investigating another possible case of cemetery vases stolen for quick money. Police say hundreds of vases have been stolen since the start of 2013- and most recently they got a report from Dale Memorial Park.

" They're stealing from the dead!" said Jeri Ann Lewis, General Manager Dale Memorial Park. She's new to the job here, but has worked in the funeral industry for some time. She says the crime is unthinkable and problematic. The vases cost about $200 each, so they're not cheap to replace. And you can only imagine the emotional toll on impacted families.  

Since January 2013, police have had reports of close to 400 stolen vases, vases likely being sold to scrap metal places for a quick buck.

Here are the four reports on file, from police:

May 29, 2013 – 10200 block of Newbys Bridge Road – More than 160 scrap vases were stolen from Dale Memorial Park. Two suspects were arrested and charged in relation to this theft.

 July 10, 2013 – 1900 block of Bermuda Hundred Road – More than 70 vases were stolen from Bermuda Memorial Park. One suspect (one of the two men charged in the May 29, 2013 theft from Dale Memorial Park) was arrested and charged in relation to this theft.

 Feb. 25, 2014 – 1900 block of Bermuda Hundred Road – About 40 vases were stolen from Bermuda Memorial Park. One suspect was arrested and charged in relation to this theft.

 May 9, 2014 – 10200 block of Newbys Bridge Road – More than 120 vases were stolen from Dale Memorial Park. The investigation is ongoing. No charges/arrests yet.

Lewis says she had her crews check on vases at Dale Memorial Park after hearing reports from other cemeteries. She filed the police reports as a precaution, but hopes maybe the vases belong to family members who took them home to decorate for Memorial Day. Still, she ordered replacements, just in case.

We checked in with some local scrap metal recycling places and they say they're working hard to make this more difficult for criminals. For instance, if you want to sell vases like the ones you might have seen in the cemetery, you'll need a license. They'll write down your license plate number, they'll take a picture of you. You'll need a signed letterhead from the cemetery. They say they get the whole transaction on video and at the end of the day, they send that transaction to police.

Meanwhile, crews at Dale Memorial Park are being extra cautious, warning whoever is taking the vases who they are hurting.

 "If it was a member of your family that was going to visit a cemetery, and then walking up to a grave with the flowers in their hand, to spend some private time with someone, and then seeing the vase missing," said Lewis. "Put yourself in that position. And don't put anyone else in that position."

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