Authorities are investigating the theft of thousands of dollars worth of bronze cemetery vases.
Raytown police said the theft occurred on Aug. 9 at Mt. Olivet Catholic Cemetery, 7601 Blue Ridge Blvd.
Investigators said 170 vases were stolen.
The total loss in replacement value is nearly $125,000, cemetery officials say. But the number could soar even higher.
Altogether, cemetery officials believe once the investigation is complete that up to 300 vases may have been stolen.
But the brass that copper thieves get from the vases will net them a few hundred dollars. The replacement costs is much more for cemeteries and the vases are invaluable for grieving family members.
"It's not the value of the vase," said cemetery director Joseph Harris. "It's that the grave has been desecrated."
And grieving families have to cover the replacement costs because they are owned by the family, not the cemetery.
"It penalizes the families. That's what is so sickening about the whole thing," Harris said. "I think it's cowardice that somebody would steal something that doesn't belong to them, and I think they ought to be put in jail."
Investigators are calling on scrap metal businesses to help catch the crooks. Businesses are asked to do their due diligence, including checking paperwork when vases are brought in. If the sellers don't have the proper paperwork, call police.
In the meantime, more police are patrolling cemeteries. Mt. Olivet is locking its gates more and is likely to start taking photographs of every license plate that comes through.
If you think you may have seen these vases or have any information about them, you are urged to contact Raytown police at 816-737-6033.
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