Vase thieves hit Va. Beach cemetery

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – Thieves lifted hundreds of bronze vases from area graveyards and they may not be be done yet. The latest occurrence of the crime happened at Colonial Grove Memorial Park on Princess Anne Road in Virginia Beach.

“It is just heart wrenching to think that somebody would do something like that,” said Joe Norris.

Everyday the Norris family comes out to Colonial Grove Memorial to visit their daughter.

“She was our baby and when she went to be with the Lord it was just devastating to us,” Norris added.

Nate died of cancer five years ago.

“We sure miss her,” Norris said. “She was a big part of our life.”

It’s a feeling of loss shared by many families who come here to visit. That’s why it is so hard to believe someone would want to add more pain.

“Desecrated and violated, as far as I’m concerned, because that was something that was placed there in memory of their loved one,” Norris said.

Sometime Friday night into Saturday morning, someone made off with almost 100 bronze vases. The total value is estimated to be about $10,000. They were ripped right off their foundations. Another 90 vases were found in trash bags. Police think the thieves were scared off before they could grab those too.

“It is unconscionable that somebody would come up and rob a grave,” Michael Gipson said. “That’s what we are speaking of here.”

Gipson is Cemetery Director of Operations at Colonial Grove. He says just as upsetting as someone stealing is knowing scrap yards are trading in the metal for cash.

“I can’t imagine a scenario that someone brings in dozens and dozens and dozens of the same type of cemetery vase and isn’t obvious to anyone that this vase is designed to go with a memorial,” he said.

Similar thefts have happened in Chesapeake, Norfolk and Hampton. Every time the thieves have taken hundreds of vases.

“I’m sure there have been a lot of hearts that have been hurt,” Norris said. “I certainly hope that they will and I will begin to pray that they get caught.”

The vases cost about $200 dollars each. Gipson said he plans to replace the stolen vases for families at Colonial Grove free of charge.

What police need to catch the thieves is a lead. They are asking for anyone who might have seen something around Colonial Grove Memorial Friday night call the Crime Line at 1-888-LOCK-U-UP.

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