GARLAND COUNTY (KTHV) -- The Garland County Sheriff is asking residents to keep an eye out for suspicious persons in local cemeteries due to metal thefts.
"People are selfish and money hungry and they will kill us all. This is a bad, bad situation," says Ilsa Stritzke who found out recently someone stole her husband's bronze vase. Her heart breaks for other families, too.
It's a problem at Crestview Cemetery in Garland County.
Thieves aren't just targeting bronze vases on gravestones, they're also swiping vases off the mausoleums. Selected Cemetery Company which owns eight cemeteries including Crestview has seen a total of 84 of those vases stolen. Sales manager Phil Pope says they've counted 168 ground vases stolen. That's a grand total over the last two years of 252.
He's working sheriff's office to catch the thieves.
"Bronze has copper in it and they're stealing bronze vases because they're easy to get a hold of and they melt it down and sell the copper," says Pope.
Some of the graves are for veterans. Pope says they're coming in at night and stealing vases further in from the entrance. Pope says it would be near impossible to fence off this large of a cemetery.
"We are looking at 40 to 50 acres of land that we own. Fencing is not a possibility. Plus cemeteries need to be available to families. Usually not at night, but they still have to be available," says Pope.
Pope says families can replace a vase at cost and not retail. That's $180 a vase. Selected Cemeteries Company estimates thieves stole a total of $84,000 worth of vases.