A number of bronze plaques were stolen from a columbarium at St. Peter’s Cemetery in London, Ont. Photo by Matthew Clarke

Charges laid in London cemetery burglary

  • December 2, 2022

London police have charged a 35-year-old man in the theft of 43 bronze vases and multiple plaques from St. Peter’s Cemetery in the southwestern Ontario city.

Matthew Clarke, director of communications for the Diocese of London, said the pilfering likely occurred the evening of Nov. 17, as the vandalism was discovered the following morning. Police, acting on a tip, arrested Mark Nadeau Nov. 22.

“One of the staff members was actually showing people some of the niches in the columbariums in a newer portion of the cemetery,” said Clarke. “When they went over, the staff member noticed that a number of the vases were basically smashed off — they’re attached with a mounting bracket.”

Beyond notifying police, local scrap yards were notified of the thefts, and ultimately, the thief turned up Nov. 21 at a scrap yard that was not even on the diocese’s radar. Fortunately, the owner, who has requested anonymity for himself and his establishment, saw coverage of the incident from a television news report. Since a person must present a piece of photo ID when they want to sell scrap metal, it was easy for the owner to pass information about the suspect along to the authorities.

A press release from the London Police Service states Nadeau “has been charged with possession of property obtained by crime exceeding $5,000” and is “scheduled to appear in London court on (Jan. 4, 2023), in relation to this charge.”

Police recovered the stolen property, but according to Clarke, an officer informed the diocesan contact at the cemetery that the items were unsalvageable and unable to be reattached.

“I think what we are going to do is get them back and see if any of them are salvageable, and then we will work with the family members about replacing them,” said Clarke. “Insurance won’t cover it. I don’t want to commit right now, but we will work to make it right for people whose niches were broken into.”

Families with loved ones memorialized in St. Peter’s Cemetery started calling the cemetery and the diocesan centre on the Friday following the report deeply upset by what they witnessed first-hand or heard about on the news. 

“This was a violation of the sacred space,” said Clarke. “Those plaques marked the resting place of loved ones’ remains, and obviously people feel very strongly that this was a low blow in terms of looking for something to steal. 

“I would also like to say that there is no need to do something like this. If you are struggling out there and feel the need to do something like this to make money, just don’t. Reach out to the social service agencies in the city and get the help you need,” Clarke added.

Please support The Catholic Register

Unlike many media companies, The Catholic Register has never charged readers for access to the news and information on our website. We want to keep our award-winning journalism as widely available as possible. But we need your help.

For more than 125 years, The Register has been a trusted source of faith-based journalism. By making even a small donation you help ensure our future as an important voice in the Catholic Church. If you support the mission of Catholic journalism, please donate today. Thank you.