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Police Make Arrest in Cemetery Vase Theft Case

Police Make Arrest in Cemetery Vase Theft Case

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Coco Warner reporting Salt Lake County police have arrested two people in a bizarre case we first reported nearly a month ago.

Hundreds of vases were stolen from cemeteries along the Wasatch Front. Thieves were taking them to recycling companies and getting paid for scrap metal.

Nearly a week after Memorial Day, scores of flowers fill the bronze vases that are a part of many gravesites near 6500 S. Redwood Rd. They're supposed to beautify the site -- a way to honor the dead. But someone had another idea.

Robert Ulch/Memorial Cemetaries and Mortuaries: "Why they would want to steal from the dead-- I just don't understand. I mean that's pretty low."

The motive for the theft: The price of bronze has increased so much-- that a vase like this is worth 10 dollars at a scrap yard."

Sgt. Darren Carr/Salt Lake County Sherriff's Office: "With the price of metal going up nowadays-- they saw it as an opportunity to make a few bucks."

Police arrested 20 year old Robert Brandt Long and 18 year old Benjamin Wyatt Widner just yesterday for the theft of some of these vases. Police attribute the arrests to the cooperation of a local recycling company.

Sgt. Darren Carr/Salt Lake County Sherriff's Office: "The big break was the fact that the people down at Wasatch metal were able to supply us with a license plate number because they got suspicious of these young kids."

Sadly, the stolen vases are just a tip of an even bigger problem: Copper piping at construction sites is also a big target.

People use stolen credit cards to purchase copper plumbing supplies to turn around and sell as scrap.

But police and cemetery officials have this warning for thieves -- now that people know it's a problem -- they're going to be on the look out.

Sgt. Darren Carr/Salt Lake County Sherriff's Office: "We are educating the scrap yard people and they're going to be under a lot more scrutiny..."

Robert Ulch/Memorial Cemetaries and Mortuaries: "All of our locations are having gates installed right now-- to prevent people from driving through-- they'll still be able to gain access on foot, but they won't be able to drive through anymore after dark."

Both the police and cemetery officials say there is no reason anyone should be in a cemetery after dark. If you see any suspicious activity, please call police.

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