Days before the country remembers its veterans, grave sites of several who served were vandalized in Rock Hill.
Thieves stole more than $10,000 worth of bronze vases from a Heckle Boulevard cemetery late last week.
Flowers and flags that loved ones had left in those vases were still scattered across the Bass-Cauthen Funeral Home & Cremation Center's cemetery lawn Monday.
Rock Hill police have issued warrants on charges of grand larceny for Ella Clark, 39, and Paul Hargrove, 48. Both were last known to be living at 348 Brownstone Drive in Rock Hill.
If you have information on their whereabouts, call police at 803-329-7230 or Crime Stoppers of York County at 877-409-4321.
Police are investigating if Clark and Hargrove were involved in other similar incidents in other jurisdictions, said Rock Hill Police Lt. Brad Redfearn.
In Rock Hill, 42 vases were stolen, said David Turner, apprentice funeral director. Most of those were in the veterans' section of the cemetery.
"It's kind of ironic they stole from the veterans' section when it's almost Veterans Day," Turner said. "To be honest, I think it's just disgusting. To steal from the dead. It's something I personally can't fathom."
Lakeview Memory Gardens near York also reported 15 vases missing from grave sites late last week, said manager Donna Furr.
She believes scrap yards shouldn't buy items that clearly came off grave sites without letters from the cemetery.
"A cemetery vases is clearly a cemetery vase. There’s no doubt as to where it came from," Furr said. "It tears us up because it tears the families up."
The vases were attached to the ground by a small chain that had been cut at several plots in the cemetery, according to Rock Hill police. Each bronze vase is worth about $240, the report states.
"Most of the vases had flowers in them," Turner said. "They were tossed randomly throughout the cemetery."
Members of Rock Hill's Veterans of Foreign Wars chapter said the theft is disrespectful to them as veterans.
Officials recovered 28 vases from a local salvage yard, and those have been returned to the cemetery. Turner said they have to match the recovered vases to the rightful grave.
Another scrap yard employee told police someone tried to sell him vases, but the unknown person was turned away, the report states.
Rock Hill Police Lt. Mike Belk said they searched local salvage yards looking for these vases. "It's a typical place to start our investigation when any scrap metal is stolen," he said.
Todd Snipes, manager of T H Snipes & Sons Inc. on S.C. 161, said a woman brought those vases to their salvage yard Friday.
She received about $210 for the vases, which weighed about 155 pounds, Snipes said.
"The lady who brought them in had no problems giving us her identification, so we thought it was on the up and up," Snipes said. "Sometimes, it happens that it's not."
When stolen items are sold, Snipes said they work with law enforcement.
While vases are not something scrap yards see all the time, Snipes said occasionally people bring them cemetery markers. For instance, when names are incorrect or if dates are wrong.
The theft remains under investigation, Belk said.