Robbers Desecrate Graves for Scrap Metal

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBCWashington.com

    Grave robbers have always been regarded among the lowest of the low. Modern grave robbers are not as interested in what's buried beneath the ground as they are in the bronze, copper and heavy metal on top. They steal it and sell it to scrap dealers for cash.

    It's a growing problem at cemeteries in Maryland and Virginia.

    The Cedar Hill Cemetery in Suitland, Md., is a peaceful place to go to visit loved ones laid to rest, but Carolyn Faraday got a sad surprise when she discovered that her family plot has been vandalized.

    Cemetery Thefts

    [DC] Cemetery Thefts
    Thieves are stealing the copper from gravesites in Prince George's County.

    "Oh my God," she exclaimed. "They took the metal urn from here, which is where you put the flowers, and then my Aunt Margaret and Uncle Thurl are buried here and they took the urn and they took the plaque with their names and dates of birth and death. And they took my grandparents' metal urn. Fortunately they don't have any bronze. And then back here, my aunt Dorothy and her husband, they took the metal urn from here. It's pretty low to come here to get scrap metal for money."

    When not in use, metal flower vases are stored inside the footstone. The heavy metal memorials can cost thousands of dollars.

    One empty hole where a vase used to be was filled with orange peels and other trash.

    Dozens of footstones along the cemetery's main road were desecrated -- quick access and escape for grave robbers.

    Within two weeks of Louise Rollison's burial in the fall, her grave was vandalized.

    "The urn, the cup, as you can see, is gone," her daughter Shirley said.

    Her family was told the cemetery doesn't replace them.

    Sunday could be a sad Mother's Day for some families if they discover that they too have had memorials desecrated.

    "I think some people would just lose it," Faraday said. "You know it is heartbreaking. We have no place to put flowers come Mother's Day."

    Prince George's police and investigators from the State of Maryland are investigating the grave thefts. If they catch the robbers or the scrap dealers who buy the stolen metal they could file criminal felony charges.