Missing Vases Not a "Huge Priority" for Burr Oak Owner

Dozens of copper vases, valued between $300 and $500, have been stolen from Perpetua's Cedar Park Cemetery

By Stephanie Streff and BJ Lutz
|  Wednesday, Jan 27, 2010  |  Updated 8:42 PM CDT
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Copper Vases Missing from Cemetery

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Copper Vases Missing from Cemetery

Families visiting loved ones at Perpetua's Cedar Park Cemetery say copper vases ranging from $300 to $500 apiece are missing from grave sites.
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The owner of Burr Oak Cemetery acknowledges the loss of dozens of copper vases from another cemetery property, but said it's not a "huge priority" for them to rectify the situation.

Between 50 and 100 of the vases, valued anywhere from $300 to $500 apiece, are missing from Cedar Park Cemetery on Chicago's South Side.

"At least the whole back half of the cemetery [has missing vases]," said Harry Holtz, who has family members buried at Cedar Park. He pointed out headstone after headstone with a hole where a vase was once placed.

Holtz's cousin, Linda Ratliff, called the cemetery's owner, Perpetua, to find out what happened.

"They said, 'Oh, well, we've had a mass theft. Just give me the name of your loved ones. We are compiling a list,'" she recalled.

But a bankruptcy attorney representing Perpetua denied a mass theft, saying only that the thefts are part of a nation-wide problem. Many cemeteries are having the valuable vases stolen, presumably so they can be sold for scrap metal.

"We are aware of the problem, but there's no perfect solution short of putting an electrified fence around the cemetery. There is little we can do," the company said in a statement. "We have no gotten enough complaints to make this a huge priority, and as you know there are bigger problems."

Those bigger problems include the ongoing investigation into the desecration at historic Burr Oak in Alsip, where hundreds of graves were dug up so the burial plots could be resold.

Four former cemetery employees have been charged. All have pleaded not guilty.

The company's statement provides little comfort for the Ratliff and Holtz families, who have had seven vases stolen between them.

"Nobody cares. It just seems like they don't care, they get paid for whatever. They don't care," Ratliff said.

The family said it's not so much about the money they lost, but more about simply knowing their loved ones are resting in peace.
 
Full Coverage:  Desecration at Burr Oak Cemetery

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