Bronze vases stolen from cemetery

The peace and quiet of Highland Memorial Park Cemetery in Johnston has been disturbed. Thieves are ripping bronze vases from gravestones and selling them for scrap.

"I've been in this business 37 years and this is the worst kind of thing that can happen when you end up stealing from the deceased," said Joe Swift, president of Highland Memorial Park Cemetery.

Swift says it's happened before.

"Last year we had over 300 vases that were stolen," Swift said.

Last year's thief was caught, arrested and put in prison. The vases cost $300 to replace, but the thieves aren't getting close to that amount in scrap.

"Last year they might have been getting $8 to $15," Swift said.

Lorraine Tammelleo said her mother's grave was damaged.

"It's not about the money, it's about the emotion part of it," she said.

Tammelleo lost her mother to complications with lung cancer a month ago. She still goes to see her several times a week.

"I just talk to her. I just feel like that that's the place to talk to her," she said.

"It's frustrating for us because there's nothing we can do about it," Swift said.

Swift said they can't police people at the cemetery and that surveillance would be expensive. But Tammelleo said she'd like to see surveillance cameras put in place.

"You don't want to invade people's privacy, but you don't want this to happen either," Tammelleo said. "There's got to be other ways to get money."