FRANKLIN COUNTY, Mo. - Desperate drug users are driving up thefts in Franklin County, according to the sheriff, who says crooks are even stealing from grave sites.

We're talking about graveside vases. Franklin County investigators first started getting reports of people stealing them and selling them for scrap about three years ago from a couple of Union cemeteries. Somebody was arrested, but then recently the thefts started up again.

A dozen stolen vases in the last few months. Authorities arrested a man they believe is responsible and are preparing to charge him.

"It's right up there with the ongoing drug problem that a lot of places are having," said Franklin County Detective James Briggs.

Briggs says drug users steal the vases, along with scrap metal, jewelry and electronics, to feed an addiction, mostly heroin.

"You're talking about going onto someone's ground that's their last respects to their loved ones," said Briggs. "You're removing something that's precious and special to them that they put there."

The overall thefts are so bad, the sheriff formed a special burglary task force last month that identified twelve suspected criminals and helped recover some stolen goods.

Detectives continue to work leads sparked by the task force.

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