COVINGTON - In what may be a case of mistaken identity, thieves have snatched approximately 18 bronze vases from graves at Zion Baptist Church Cemetery on Ga. Highway 212.
Church officials said they believe the thieves thought the vases are made from copper, which is much more valuable than bronze. According to Oconee Metal Recycling on Washington Street, bronze, or brass, sells for $1.60 a pound as opposed to copper, which is currently valued at $2.95 a pound.
"Whoever did this did it at night. We don't have any idea who it was. We just hope the good Lord will handle this case," said Harold Musgrove, church member and chairman of the cemetery committee.
He said he believed the culprits were in a car and came back on at least two occasions. He said he had noticed several vases missing about three weeks ago, but since that time, at least 18 missing vases have been documented.
The following is a list of grave sites listed on a report from the Newton County Sheriff's Office that have missing vases:
· Bobby and Gloria Ramsey;
· Ronnie and Marilyn Nail;
· Clint and Winne Devenport;
· William and Louis Woodward;
· John Glenn and Agnes Hasty;
· Richard and Barbara Frost;
· Jonah Brady Hitchcock;
· Willie and Mary Farmer;
· James L. and Marilyn Erskine;
· Leon and Dorothy Childs;
· Troy Layne Pierce Sr.;
· Jerry and Mary Brewer;
· Dennis Stepnowki;
· Ray A. Sprenger;
· Norman Lee and Rosemary McCullough;
· Denver and Mabel Adams;
· Alvin and Dorothy J. Covington; and
· Jack and Dorothy Atkins.
Musgrove said if the thieves needed money and had asked the church for assistance, they probably would have helped them.
"If it's (the proceeds from the theft) to pay his light bill, I'd help pay his light bill. But I'm afraid he probably wanted the money for something else," Musgrove said.
Musgrove said it was a sad day when residents were prevented from remembering their loved ones who had died.
"Folks think, 'We'll put flowers on the grave from time to time in memory of my folks,' and then here comes some druggie and takes it away," he said. "We'll have to rely on our good police force to put a stop to it."
Anyone who has information on this incident is asked to call the NCSO at 678-625-1401. Tips can be given to the NCSO anonymously by calling 678-625-5007 or through their Web site at www.newtonsheriffga.org by clicking on "anonymous tip line." Those who want a response from NCSO personnel should leave contact information.
Barbara Knowles can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.