More than $100K worth of vases stolen from cemeteries in SE Wisconsin

Bronze vases stolen from Pinelawn Memorial Park -- similar to those stolen in West Bend

MILWAUKEE COUNTY -- Newly-filed court documents detail developments in a case that includes not one, but two people suspected of trying to sell cemetery vases for scrap.

Sometime between late September and early October, officials at Washington County Memorial Park in West Bend realized about 50 bronze vases were stolen -- a loss valued at more than $20,000.

Gary Rasmussen

"We had the police check with all our local guys right away, the scrapyards, and notify them, and then I notified our Catholic cemetery in town, too, to keep an eye out, but we haven't heard anything back," says Gary Rasmussen, Washington County Memorial Park superintendent.

Less than a month later, Pinelawn Cemetery in Wauwatosa discovered it, too, was missing bases -- more than 230 with a value of more than $100,000.

Washington County Memorial Park

Pinelawn Memorial Park

Alter Trading

According to a search warrant affidavit filed late last week in Milwaukee County, a security officer at Alter Trading -- formerly Miller Compressing -- spotted an engraved vase in a pile of scrap in mid-November. That security officer set it aside after seeing news reports of the thefts.

About a week and a half later, a man turned in nearly 250 pounds -- equaling 47 vases -- to Alter Trading.

United Milwaukee Scrap

Filings say the man, who was ID'd by security, as well as his vehicle -- told a scale operator he would return in early December as he: "had more cemetery vases and copper pipe."

When is not clear, but the same man in the same vehicle, along with another man ID'd in court filings, tried to scrap vases at a northside scrap yard, but were turned away because of the news of the thefts.

The affidavit doesn't detail if any of the recovered vases are indeed the ones taken from the two cemeteries.