Rash of grave site robberies strikes Triangle

DURHAM Durham resident Don Paschall says thieves recently robbed his parents' grave site.

"We all know about the Grinch who stole Christmas, they're worse than the Grinch," he said.

Dozens of vases have come up missing from several headstones at Woodlawn Memorial Park in Durham.

"It's one of the lowest things anybody can do with the exception of stealing from a church," Paschall said.

"It's really disgusting, because these people have paid over $300 for these vases," said Mary Ann Schofield with Woodlawn Cemetery.

Because the vases are bronze, thieves are trading the copper in for cash.

"Stealing a vase for a few bucks hurts a family so much," Schofield said. "This is sacred; this is where their loved ones are."

Catching the culprits hasn't been easy, because nearby roads allow for a quick getaway.

But Paschall blames pawn shops and scrap metal dealers too.

"These vases are unique, they're bronze," Paschall said. "Somebody brings 15 to 30 of them in that would be a red flag to me to know that doesn't belong to them."

The thefts are happening nationwide and other Triangle cemeteries are also on alert. Families are being urged to protect their memories and their property.

"I've been telling folks if they don't have flowers, to turn them upside down or to take that vase home, because it is theirs," Schofield said.

"Christmas is supposed to the season of love and it's kind of hard to love somebody that would stoop that low," Paschall said.

ABC11 Eyewitness News has been told many families are so overwhelmed about what's happened that they haven't reported it to local police. Authorities are urging anyone with information about the thefts to give them a call.

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