Scrap metal thieves swipe hundreds of bronze vases from graves - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Scrap metal thieves swipe hundreds of bronze vases from Memphis graves

By Jason Miles - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Thieves in search of precious metals have stolen hundreds of bronze vases from grave markers in a Memphis cemetery.

Forest Hill Cemetery on Elvis Presley Boulevard made news when former owner Clayton Smart was accused of bilking thousands of pre-paid policy holders. He's now awaiting trial.

The cemetery's new management is now dealing with a crisis of its own.

 "We've had five or six incidents of thieves going in and stealing maybe 25 or 50 vases at a time," said Forest Hill General Manager Roger Watson, who was appointed general manager in the wake of the Smart scandal.

"It just breaks our heart to see it happen."

 Watson says it costs the company between $150 and $200 to replace each stolen vase.

Both Watson and police suspect the vases are being sold for scrap to dealers who may be ignoring a new city ordinance designed to make it harder for thieves to steal and sell scrap metal.

"Hopefully, there would be something in place where instead of giving them a receipt or proceeds, they'll call police and say, "Hey, I got a load of vases here. What do you think?' "

Families often discover the disturbed gravesites before employees.

Watson says the company is slowly beginning to replace stolen bronze vases with ones made of acrylic, which he says look like the real thing.


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