To date, more than 250 vases have been stolen from three Catholic cemeteries in Mississauga. Photo from Catholic Cemeteries Toronto

Thieves target gravesite vases in Mississauga

  • October 22, 2018

Peel police are investigating a rash of thefts at three Catholic cemeteries in Mississauga, Ont., where thieves have made off with bronze vases from gravesites.

To date, more than 250 vases have been stolen from the three Catholic cemeteries. Police believe the thieves sell the vases as scrap metal.

The thefts have also spread eastward to Whitby, where Durham Regional Police say about 200 vases disappeared from burial plots at Mount Lawn Cemetery in the first week of October.

“We’re really saddened to learn of these thefts,” said Amy Profenna, director of marketing and public relations at Catholic Cemeteries and Funeral Services – Archdiocese of Toronto. “We’re working with police and we’ve hired our own security professionals to try and find out who is responsible for these thefts.”

Since April, thieves have targeted Assumption, St. Mary’s and Mount Peace Cemeteries. In mid-April, 32 vases were reported missing from Mount Peace. Between June 29 and July 3, 150 more were removed from St. Mary’s and late last month another 87 disappeared from Assumption. Police estimate the vases are worth about $67,000.

The rash of thefts is forcing Catholic Cemeteries to work with families in replacing the markers that families use to erect flowers in commemoration of loved ones who have died.

“It’s extremely upsetting to know that someone would steal vases from a loved one’s final resting place in a cemetery,” said Profenna. “(Catholic Cemeteries) is currently considering options for replacing stolen vases.”

Sgt. Matt Bertram of Peel Regional Police said he sees instances like this quite regularly and experience makes him believe it is the work of drug addicts.

“Generally, it’s drug addiction that leads people to steal whatever they can that’s not bolted down and they exchange it for money,” he said.

“We have a lot of prolific metal thieves that steal anything that’s metal and they go and turn it into these metal recycling places.”

Bertram said police have canvassed a number of metal recycling yards but none have said they have received such items. 

It’s not the first time Bertram has seen Church properties targeted by thieves, and “those ones just blew my mind,” he said. 

“No conscience, no faith, they’ve got nothing, it’s just sad. You feel sad that this person has to resort to this point. (They’re at) the bottom. You hope they can get the help they need,” he said.

The sad part of that is that the stolen goods are generally exchanged for pennies on the dollar compared to what they are really worth, he added.

Police are asking anyone with information on these thefts to call 12 Division Criminal Investigation Bureau at (905) 453-3311 ext. 1233 or CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). 

Catholic Cemeteries is asking families affected by the thefts to contact Assumption Cemetery at (905) 670-8801.

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