Metal thievery isn't a new idea, and the number of city parks that have gone dark due to copper wire disappearing is evidence, but it seems like there must be some bad ju-ju that goes with stealing from cemeteries:
"It's definitely a new low," says Lan Price, assistant manager of Ridge Crest Memorial Park in Batesburg-Leesville, S.C., where thieves recently stole dozens of vases.
The thieves were crafty, he says. Instead of just dumping the flowers, they would stick them in the ground, making it seem as if nothing was wrong to anyone driving by.
No one knows for sure how many vases have been stolen, partly because the crime can go unnoticed. But such thefts have been reported in the past year from Nevada to South Carolina.
The vases, about 10 inches high and three inches in diameter, are made of bronze, an alloy rich in copper. They typically screw into a plate on the grave marker and are secured with a small chain. Although the price of copper has dropped about 20% this year, most major metals prices are still near historic highs.
"Cemeteries by nature are open to the public," says Jessica McDunn, spokesperson for Service Corp. International, which provides funeral and cemetery services all over North America. "In a way, we're kind of an easy target."