No doubt there is much of value in every cemetery in the world, regardless of how grand or how humble.
If you don’t agree, just park in a cemetery and wait for someone to visit a grave. Chances are they’d give everything they have in exchange for another day with their departed loved one.
But not everything valuable in cemeteries is underground.
Last December a South Carolina man was caught stealing bronze-coated vases from graves, then attempting to sell them for the market price of the metal.
According to Independent Mail of Anderson, South Carolina, Charles Cochran of Clover was accused of filching 39 vases from a cemetery where a number of veterans are buried.
Workers at Lakeview Memory Gardens in York noticed that the vases, valued at $11,000, had been stolen over a period of two days.
The manager of a recycling center in Dallas, North Carolina, told authorities that Cochran cashed in the vases for $450.
A copycat crime occurred in Beloit, Wisconsin, recently.
Late last month, Beloit police began recovering cemetery vases and military grave markers from scrap dealers in the area. In all, 181 vases and 121 markers were confiscated.
Kristopher Kaehler, 27, was arrested last week in connection with the thefts, which took place at Eastlawn Cemetery in Beloit.
A pair of robbers were even more ambitious at magnificent old Union Dale Cemetery in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where many of the markers are of historic significance.
They stole bronze doors and stained glass windows from a century-old mausoleum, then hacked the doors to pieces before heading for the scrapyard.
Once there, adding insult to injury, Michael P. Lawrence and Travis Haun used the stolen identity of a third man to sell the $8,000 worth of bronze.
WPXI Pittsburgh reports that the two are in jail, having been charged with felony vandalism, theft, and receiving stolen property, as well as a misdemeanor count of theft of venerated objects.
Unfortunately, often criminals wreak havoc in cemeteries while going nowhere near the graves.
In June, 2011, two women were being sought by authorities for suspected theft of a credit card from a car parked at a Pennsylvania cemetery.
The women were caught on surveillance tape using the card at a gas station and stores near Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Cheltenham.
There’s not much you can do to protect your loved one’s bronze vase from being stolen, but there is a great deal you can do to protect yourself from crime while visiting a cemetery.
Realize that while in a cemetery, you’re vulnerable simply because, unless you’re attending a funeral, there aren’t many (living) people around.
Even if you are there with a large group, never leave your car unlocked. Ideally, don’t stray far from your car — locked or not — if you can help it.
Certainly when visiting the grave of a loved one, lock your car even if you park near the grave. Take your cell phone with you even if it’s only a few yards away.
When graving — walking a cemetery to read or take pictures — always lock your car and again, don’t leave the car without your phone.
Although the practice of graving can be very engrossing, stay aware of what is going on around you.
As any taphophile will tell you, a lot goes on in cemeteries. If you hang out in them long enough, you’ll see something interesting.
But with any luck, it won’t be anything illegal.
Jennifer Weber is the owner of Angel Funeral Photography and Jennifer Weber Photography. When she’s not preoccupied with casual portraiture, funeral photography, or taking pictures in cemeteries, she blogs at I’m Having A Thought Here and A Route of Evanescence. She is a frequent contributor to Find A Grave, where she is known as AngelSeeker.