Thieves steal hundreds of vases from local gravesites

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — Chesapeake Police say thieves have stolen hundreds of bronze vases from cemetery grave sites, and this month, two cemeteries in the city were targeted.

Cemeteries are supposed to be places of peace and memories, places to spend time with loved ones. But lately, Chesapeake Police say thieves have disrupted several sacred resting places. The manager at Roosevelt Memorial Park says 650 bronze vases were stolen from grave sites there. Another 100 vases were stolen from their maintenance shed.

Judy Lewis first noticed the problem at Greenlawn Memorial Gardens Cemetery when she came to visit her parents’ grave site: “I came out yesterday to bring flowers and I kept saying, ‘Something isn’t right. Something is wrong.’”

Lewis spends time at Greenlawn Memorial Gardens to visit her deceased mother.

“Normally I try I stay a few minutes and talk to my mom,” Lewis said. “I kept her for six and a half years before she died at 87. I really miss her. I miss her a lot.”

But on this trip, she spent more time figuring out what wasn’t right. When she looked closer, she noticed several bronze vases were missing from grave sites. And sure enough, the president of Greenlawn Memorial Gardens said 250 vases were stolen there. Managers at the cemeteries say the thefts are not only disrespectful, but costly to families. Each one of the vases can cost upwards of $300.

“Where the people have vases stolen, it’s like coming in their house and stealing something,” said Hinton Hurff, President of Greenlawn Memorial Gardens. “To the passerby, it looks like flowers and vases, but to the families it’s a great deal more.”

Luckily, Lewis’ family’s bronze vase is still in tact, but she feels for the families who were not as fortunate.

“They think they are not respecting the living or the dead when they do that. I don’t think they would want it for their family at all,” she said.

Roosevelt Memorial Park has offered to sell replacement bronze vases to families at a discount. At Greenlawn Memorial Gardens, owners have to replace the vases themselves.

Managers at the cemeteries suspect the thieves are going to try to sell these vases for scrap metal, but they likely won’t get much. A manager at one Roosevelt Memorial Park said at most thieves could get $10 a vase. If you know anything about the crimes, call the Crime Line at 1-888-LOCK-U-UP.

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