Grave robbing has become an above-ground affair, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Gone are the days when thieves would dig up an old grave and pillage for gold teeth and rings. Today, it’s mostly the bronze markers and flower vases that draw their attention. Rising scrap metal prices, coupled with the lagging economy, have triggered a string of cemetery thefts both locally and across the nation. “I can’t think of anything lower,” said David Evans of Valhalla Gardens of Memory in Belleville, Il. “Nothing’s worse than stealing from the dead.”
States are passing laws and police are cracking down. In March, the Madison County, Il., Sheriff’s Department arrested three people for stealing 40 vases from two cemeteries. The owner of a Granite City scrap recycling center turned them in. Last year, a trio of thieves hit another cemetary, stealing 17 bronze vases from graves. A month later, they went back and stole a dozen more. The two men and a woman were arrested after a tipster reported a suspicious vehicle. Charges are pending. The scrap value of a bronze vase is about $10; the replacement price often tops $300.