SAN ANTONIO – Some people who have loved ones buried at an East Side cemetery are feeling a different kind of loss.
Thieves have been stealing bronze vases off the gravesites at Meadowlawn Memorial Park, located in the 5600 block of East Houston Street.
Relatives of loved ones often fill those vases with flowers.
One woman, who asked to be identified only as A. Gonzalez, said lately she has noticed the decorations disappearing in droves.
“That’s low,” Gonzalez said. "To come out here to steal something from somebody that passed away, that's just the bottom of the pit.”
So far, her brother’s grave has been spared from the crime. However, Gonzalez said many of her neighbors and friends with loved ones buried there haven’t been so lucky.
To make matters worse, she said, no one with the cemetery informed them about it.
"So I called a couple of them and said, 'Hey, you need to go check out your dad’s, your brother's burial site because the vases are missing," she said.
Gonzalez believes the cemetery’s management also could do more to prevent the problem.
KSAT 12 News reached out to the owner of Meadowlawn. Craig Cates responded in an email, saying, “We take theft in our business seriously.”
Cates listed all his company has done in response, including installing monitored security cameras and security lighting, offering rewards, catching three people stealing and catching a local metal recycling company buying stolen vases.
He also said Meadowlawn has filed “numerous police reports” with San Antonio police and works closely with a San Antonio Fear Free Environment officer to combat the problem.
KSAT 12 News requested information from SAPD on any reports filed by the cemetery.
A spokeswoman said records show officers were called to that address only once within the past year. She said the complaint was listed under “miscellaneous” and did not include any additional details.
Cates also noted that his cemetery was not the only one, locally, experiencing bronze thefts. He said this is a nationwide problem.
To Gonzalez, Meadowlawn is the only one that matters.
“If it's under surveillance, I don't know why (the vases) are missing then. Why are they missing?” she said.
A local metal recycler told KSAT 12 News bronze sells for about $1.83-1.93 per pound right now. At that particular company, a letter from a cemetery is required in order for it to accept grave decorations for recycling, workers said.