What would anyone want with heavy bronze doors? Might they need replacements for the antechamber doors in their castle? Would they sell them on the black art market? Hardly. Most likely they would attempt to sell them for scrap. At current rates for bronze scrap ($2.00 per pound), the doors would fetch a thousand dollars (500 lbs. x $2.00 per pound). Bronze, being an alloy of copper and tin, is worth almost as much as copper (click link for current prices), the “gold” of the scrap metal industry.
But there’s a catch – and that is, quite literally, that the thieves or the scrap yard could be caught. Selling scrap is not so easy if the booty is recognizable. So if the thieves thought that it was hard enough to remove the pair of 250-pound doors from the mausoleum, lug them across a snow-covered cemetery, over a fence, and into a waiting vehicle – wait until they try to chop them up. That can’t be easy.
|Blocked-up mausoleum entrance|
|Grave medals a target for thieves|
The problem of metal theft is ever present, but it has boomed in recent months.The rash of scrap thefts has put recyclers in a difficult position. Many find themselves trying to maintain their incoming supply while guarding against accepting stolen material."Unfortunately, with most scrap metal, there's just no way to tell the difference between legitimate scrap and that which has been stolen -- it all looks the same,” said Chuck Carr, spokesman for the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI). "Recyclers are also confronted with the challenge of protecting their own inventory from theft, both at their facilities and in transit to their customers."To meet these challenges, recyclers are engaging in cooperative crime-fighting efforts with other recyclers and law enforcement officials.In general, scrap recyclers must address scrap thefts on two fronts: First, they must protect themselves from having their own material stolen. And second, they must protect themselves from inadvertently buying stolen material over the scale.Recyclers are taking steps to identify incoming stolen material and avoid purchasing it. Scrap operators know it's illegal to intentionally purchase stolen material. They also recognize the potential out-of-pocket losses they may suffer by unwittingly buying such material. If the material's rightful owner or local authorities find the stolen goods in a recycler's yard, they can reclaim it without having to reimburse the recycler.
And what about the families who own the mausoleums? Does a cemetery insure itself against such theft? Do the families who own the mausoleums insure the building? Arlington Cemetery is home to the Museum of Mourning Arts, a wonderful museum of Victorian funerary art. I hope the building has an electronic security system. The cemetery itself is immaculate, a genteel purlieu in a residential neighborhood, fronted by busy Lansdowne Avenue. Its wooded acres are very well-maintained, though such bucolic forested landscaping offers convenient cover for thieves. Hard to believe such a theft could occur here, and no one see the theft in process. If anyone reading this has any information about the doors, please call Upper Darby Police's anonymous tip line at 610-734-3439.
Nothing is safe when people are hard up for money, perhaps money to feed a drug habit, as police suspect in the Arlington thefts. The bronze medallions (see photo at left) that mark veterans’ graves in many cemeteries are easy pickings, certainly easier than a mausoleum door. They go missing all the time (see link). Though I never weighed one, I assume each weighs a pound. Fifty of these at $2.00 apiece would fetch one hundred dollars as scrap. You can buy a gram of heroin with that. (My mathematically-inclined readers have already done the math and see that the value of heroin is TWICE that of gold!)
|Ed Snyder with "Silent Sentinel" (photo Frank Rausch)|
References and Further Reading:
Bronze grave markers stolen