GREENWOOD, SC (FOX Carolina) - Late Wednesday afternoon, Greenwood County Sheriff Dennis Kelly went up to Greenwood Memorial Gardens to check on the grave of his mother-in-law.
"You'd just think that even the criminals would have more respect for the deceased than to take things off their grave sites," he told Fox Carolina.
This latest case of cemetery vandalism is one that he calls "very upsetting."
"It's just odd that they would even think to go to a cemetery first to look for metals," Sheriff Kelly said.
Kurtland Keeter, Cameron Fuller, and Jordan Wilson were after the brass that makes the vases holding graveside flowers. They're now being held in Greenwood County Detention Center.
"They were trying to break them up to scrap them," Kelly explained.
But the haul these men got was less than impressive.
"They tried to scrap like 16 pounds--and it came to about $19.20," the Sheriff said.
And the damage done was far worse.
"A hundred--a hundred...as of now," Kelly said, when asekd how many vases were stolen.
A hundred stolen vases--and a hundred potentially heartbroken families--left behind from a scheme the Sheriff says was most likely fueling other vices.
"Whatever amount of money they can get to support their drug habit is the reason for it," he told Fox Carolina.
And it wasn't just Memorial Gardens. Four different Greenwood Cemeteries, including Elmwood and Siloam cemeteries, were robbed.
"I guess criminals nowadays just don't have that same respect...even though previous criminals used to stay away from places like churches and cemeteries," the Sheriff said.
Kelly adds he's not sure if every family affected has been contacted, since they're still taking stock of the situation. But, he says now, they can add another potential crime to their list.
"Now it's on radar--so uniform patrol deputies will be out patrolling," he said.
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