3 charged in vase thefts at Long Island cemetery

Tim Fleischer has the report from Farmingdale, LI.
February 7, 2014 3:10:08 PM PST
Stolen memorial bronze vases, boxes and barrels of them, were recovered during what Suffolk County police describe as a crime of desecration with a staggering price tag.

"It's somewhere around $53,000 dollars. That we recovered," Suffolk County Det. Lt. Robert Edwards said.

Accused of stealing the vases are 27 year old Nicholas Giambalvo, 24-year old Max Schneider and 27-year old Elizabeth Dono. All three are charged with grand larceny. Investigators believe the thefts were for only one reason.

"To these three individuals, who are heroin addicts, it's only a way for them to get money," Edwards said.

Officers first responded to a call at Pinelawn Cemetery and located two of the male suspects, who they say immediately fled, busting through a locked metal gate.

"The vehicle ended up having an accident in Massapequa at that time we arrested the two operators who were in possession of 20 memorial vases that were stolen," he said.

Police believe the thefts occurred at Pinelawn Cemetery on four different occasions. Police say the thefts occurred on October 1 and 16 and February 5 and 6.

Cemetery officials say they are "...grateful that the security surveillance and procedures we have implemented helped lead to the arrests..."

This has been chronic problem in recent years, police say, with thieves targeting other cemeteries. They sell the bronze vases to scrappers getting $20 to $25 dollars for what families of the deceased pay between $400 and $500 dollars.

Responding to my tweet about the recovery of the vases one follower said: "My parents' grave vase was robbed a few years back. I was floored that someone could do such a terrible thing."

Pinelawn officals say they will replace any unrecovered vases at no cost to the families.