Two men have been arrested after allegedly stealing from the dead. Hundreds of bronze vases were stolen from at least one El Paso cemetery earlier this month.
“This is a pretty thoughtless crime. When the family comes to visit their loved one and that memento there, that vase where they had the flowers — that’s going to extend the grieving period for that family,” explained Detective Mike Baranyay with the El Paso Police Department.
Police are investigating the theft of 500 to 600 bronze vases, from at least one local cemetery.
The suspects involved are Jesus Cruz, 33, and Juan Salas, 42. Both have been charged with theft of property by possession more than $20,000.
Officials at Restlawn Memorial Services said the thefts were in a specific area of the property. They explained the thefts are very upsetting.
Police said at least 200 vases have been found.
“One of our detectives decided that there’s a high likelihood these are going to a local recycle shop,” said Baranyay.
Many vases ended up at Commercial Metals Company recycling in Vinton, Texas. Managers there said they bought about 1,000 pounds of bronze from the suspects.
Corporate officials explained they work closely with law enforcement to prevent and detect the theft of stolen metals.
In a statement Debbie Okle with the company’s public relations wrote, “We were able to immediately provide not only items sought by law enforcement officials but also information on the persons involved in the sale of these items.”
“People don’t go to cemeteries to steal. So these things are being taken, maybe because they’re easy to take. Cemeteries are usually large, so it’s really hard to watch them as security,” said Baranyay.
Police ask if the public sees any suspicious activity at any local cemetery to call authorities.