Bronze Vases Stolen from Veterans' Gravesites at San Diego Cemetery

The sad problem has been plaguing Greenwood Memorial Park in San Diego's Mountain View area since 2008

Something disturbing keeps happening at Greenwood Memorial Park in San Diego: people are stealing bronze vases meant to hold flowers on the gravesites of veterans.

According to Juan Cervantes, general manager of Greenwood Memorial Park in the Mountain View area, the problem has been plaguing the cemetery for years but has recently gotten worse.

Cervantes said the vases, which are made of bronze and sit atop some gravesites, began disappearing from the 125-acre park during the 2008 recession.

Despite daily, round-the-clock security, the thefts continue today.

“They’re made out of bronze, so I’m assuming people are taking them and probably melting them down and selling them,” said Cervantes. “We’ve tried seeking help from the police but they can’t really do much. You can’t stop every single person who’s in the park.”

The vases are found on older graves, such as those in a special tribute area designated for U.S. military veterans.

Cervantes said the park is constantly replacing the stolen vases. And, though families are not charged for a new vase, Cervantes said it still stings knowing someone if profiting from a loved one’s grave.

“It’s very disrespectful. I just think they see us as an easy target because we’re technically a park. We’re easy prey. And, unfortunately, they’re using us for other gains,” he lamented.

Chula Vista resident Eileen Ontiveros personally feels the pain of the gravesite thefts.

She often visits her grandmother’s gravesite at Greenwood Memorial Park, leaving flowers for her grandmother in a bronze vase.

Her grandmother passed away 10 years ago. To date, the bronze vase holding her grandma’s flowers at the cemetery has been stolen twice.

The thefts have left her feeling sad and uneasy.

“You do feel violated. You feel [like], ‘Hey, who comes and does this? Especially to a loved one who’s passed away already?’” she said.

Due to the ongoing thefts, Greenwood Memorial Park now advises families to purchase plastic, tin or zinc vases for their loved ones gravesites. Since they’re far less valuable, thieves tend to leave them alone.

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