RAYTOWN, Mo. - Grave robbers hit a Missouri cemetery leaving mourners angry and hurt. The target of the crooks: flower vases on headstones because they contain cooper that can be sold.
"I think it's cowardice somebody would steal something that doesn't belong to them and I think they ought to be put in jail," said widower Richard McAfee.
McFfee lost his wife on Christmas Eve. Mount Olivet is where he brings her flowers now. Investigators say 170 bronze vases were stolen from the cemetery about two weeks ago. Cemetery director Joseph Harris says it may be closer to 250 or 300 when it's all said and done.
"It's not the value of the vases, it's that the grave's been desecrated. Theoretically, they've been robbed and their loved one's been robbed," said Harris.
He says it'd cost the cemetery close to $200 to replace each vase, something it simply cannot afford. Sadly, he says the vases are the property and responsibility of the families, victimizing them twice, for what?
"How far can you transport something if you're only making 10 or 20 bucks per each after you do some work to disguise it to make it look like not a vase?" said Harris.
Raytown police say the crooks are stripping the vases of copper, and while the loss could reach into six figures for all the victims, the bad guys aren't making much.
Harris says the cemetery will be forced to lock its gates and get snapshots of license plates coming and going, and Raytown police will beef up patrols as well. All for something that pretty much disgusts everyone across the board.
"It's bad for everybody because they don't respect the dead. The dead did their part, now it's time to do our part, that's the way I feel about that," said McAfee.