SAN BENITO — While many used Memorial Day as a time to relax and stay in bed, Jesse Garcia headed to the cemetery to pay his respects, as the day was intended.
Along with his family, Garcia arrived at Mont Meta Memorial Park Monday to visit his late father and uncle.
Instead, he was met with disgust. What he saw sickened him to his core.
Brass vases had been taken off several plots in the cemetery. Others had been knocked over.
Garcia posted numerous photos on his personal Facebook page showing about a dozen plots missing their brass vases.
This wasn’t the first time Garcia has had this problem with the cemetery.
“This has happened before,” Garcia said. “First to my father and then my grandmother, and now my uncle.”
When Garcia confronted the Mont Meta Memorial park about it, he was told measures would be put in place for security purposes, but he says nothing was ever done.
“They promised us this wouldn’t happen again as they would place either security or some other measures to prevent this from happening yet again,” Garcia posted on Facebook.
Another commenter said she had experienced the same thing.
“All four of ours were stolen a year ago,” Rosa Garcia said.
Stealing brass vases placed on burial plots that are often used to hold flowers for the deceased is not unheard of.
Cemeteries across the nation have experienced these types of thefts.
In March, a man in New Jersey was arrested for stealing nearly 700 bronze vases to sell for scrap metal worth $175,000.
While local recycling centers do buy clean brass that can sell for $1.68 a pound, it is illegal to purchase the grave markers since they are considered stolen property.
A representative from Harlingen Recycling Center said they are unable to accept any brass vase that had previously been used at a cemetery and are obligated by law to turn away anyone trying to sell them.
The brass is a state regulated material and buyers are required to keep records of those they purchase from.
While other cemeteries said it was a common occurrence for brass vases to be taken, Cameron County Sheriff Omar Lucio said he seldom, if ever, sees any formal complaints filed.
Mont Meta Memorial Park is owned by the Dignity Memorial Corporation.
The person contacted there stated she was unable to comment on the matter.