by: Dave Faherty Updated:
LENOIR, N.C. - Police are stepping up patrols at a cemetery in Lenoir after they said someone stole thousands of dollars of bronze vases used to hold flowers from the Blue Ridge Memorial Park.
Channel 9 reporter Dave Faherty saw families coming to the cemetery Wednesday morning to check the sites of loved ones.
Some of those people are finding empty holes where the vases are supposed to be on headstones.
Workers discovered the thefts Monday morning and said 138 bronze vases were taken.
"I just think it is pathetic. It is just lower than low. These are our loved ones. Find a job, do something don't just take,” said resident Lori Crump.
Those vases cost $300 each, but the value of the bronze melted down is just over $6 at a scrap yard.
The total cost to replace the vases is valued at more than $40,000, but the emotional impact has taken a toll on families.
Two brothers who came to check on their family's gravesites know what they want to happen to the thief if they're caught.
"I tell you I would take a belt to them,” said Thurston Bolick.
"I believe I would hang them,” said brother Troy Bolick.
Mary Jean Benfield's husband and best friend are buried here. She hopes the thief does the right thing.
"It just heartbreaking to know somebody would do this. I pray for them and get their lives straightened back out and turn them back in because that's where they need to be,” she said.
Workers said the city will pay to have all the vases replaced.
Investigators said they have already been in contact with local scrap yards to be on the lookout for the vases.