Bronze vases stolen from cemetery

Police seek help in finding culprit
Mar. 05, 2014 @ 08:11 AM

Freshly cut flowers stand tall from the hundreds of bronze vases dotting the landscape at Blue Ridge Memorial Park on Wilkesboro Boulevard. But the vases from many of the graves are missing, leaving nothing but an ugly hole in the grave markers where loved ones are buried.

On Monday, someone called cemetery and grounds superintendent Terrence Banner to report a vase had been stolen from a grave marker. Employees inspected the cemetery and discovered 138 vases had been removed sometime over the weekend, presumably to be sold as scrap. Lenoir police are now trying to find the culprit.

This isn't the first time the cemetery has been hit by metal thieves bent on selling the bronze for cash. In 2005, bronze vases were stolen and later turned up, many already damaged, at a metal yard, Banner said. Some had already been destroyed.

Stolen metal sold to scrap yards has been a persistent problem for years. As of Tuesday, bronze was fetching a price of $1.70 a pound. Grave markers, historical plaques and similar items are easy targets for thieves, who can slip into a cemetery under cover of darkness. Blue Ridge has no security cameras.

The vases are valued at $300 apiece, or about $41,000, police said. The city of Lenoir will replace the vases, as it did in 2005. Meanwhile, detectives search for clues and plead for help from the public.

CRIME STOPPERS

Police are asking anyone with information about the theft of 138 bronze vases from Blue Ridge Memorial Park to call Caldwell-Lenoir Crime Stoppers at 758-8300, or the Lenoir Police Department at 575-2100.