The scourge of metal scroungers -- who've torn up BART control equipment and left some Bay Area traffic lights blinking -- has slithered to a new low with the theft of brass or copper flower holders from over 500 graves in Colma, police said Wednesday.
The Feb. 3 and 18 thefts from Cypress Lawn Memorial Park totalled about 4,500 pounds of metal that is worth about $4,500 to metal recyclers but will cost about $87,000 to replace, said Colma police Cmdr. Jon Read. On the first occasion 225 vases were stolen and another 300 disappeared in the most recent theft.
"It's particularly shocking that people are coming into a cemetery, a place of peace, and stealing from a grave site," said Read.
Police haven't made any arrests and don't have any suspects. They have put local recyclers on alert about the thefts.
The missing vases, which were attached to graves by chains, were first detected by maintenance crews.
Read said anytime metals prices go up the city sees a surge in thievery. He pointed to thieves who went so far as to steal the metal doors off of cemetery crypts in 2007 or 2008. The price of copper is up to about $4 per pound, an increase of about 25 percent from 2007, according to metalprices.com
Read said he believes the cemetery is going to replace the vases at no cost to the families of the dead. The manager of Cypress Lawn did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Contact Joshua Melvin at 650-348-4335. Follow him at Twitter.com/melvinreport.