Bronze vases stolen from Paramus cemetery

August 8, 2011 2:13:14 PM PDT
The George Washington cemetery in Paramus is providing plastic vases free of charge so people won't use the expensive bronze ones.

Dozens of those vases have been stolen in the last month, and police say they don't have any solid leads.

If you look closely at the headstones at the George Washington cemetery in Paramus you'll notice something is missing.

There are cheap plastic vases, or no vases at all, standing in the spots where the bronze vases belong.

"It's a tragedy because you're here to pay respect to the deceased," said Eugene Avella, a robbery victim.

Eugene Avella's uncle's vase was stolen. Now he's paying to replace it.

"When I pass on, I wonder if someone is going to take the time and money to go through what I'm going through," Avella said.

Paramus Police say since the end of June, 20 bronze vases have been stolen.

Those are just the thefts someone noticed.

Cemetery workers say there may be dozens more stolen vases that families simply haven't discovered yet.

"We've been to scrap yards in the area, they claim they're not buying them," said Detective Joseph McNair, of the Paramus Police Department.

Police believe the headstone thieves are selling the vases to scrap metal dealers for $10 to $15 dollars each. It's not much, considering they cost $300 to $400 to replace.

"With the economy, junkies and drug addicts, they'll take whatever they can get," Det. McNair said.

The George Washington cemetery has a night patrol and police are also driving through the cemetery at night. But it's so large, officials acknowledge that the only way they'll likely crack this case is with a tip.

"I wonder if I should take the vases myself until all this settles down," said Chris Keune, a family member.

New customers are being advised not to buy any bronze on their headstone, as engraved granite is a safer choice.