Victory Memorial Park assistant general manager Don Calder walks through one of the gardens where thieves targeted bronze vases.

Half of vases stolen from South Surrey cemetery recovered

Recyclers, legislation lauded for return of bronze graveside memorials.

A cache of bronze vases that piqued the suspicions of staff at a Surrey recycling facility last week have been confirmed as some of those stolen from gravesites at Victory Memorial Park.

Surrey RCMP Cpl. Bert Paquet said Friday that police returned 28 containers to cemetery operators Thursday, and are now looking to find and question the woman who dropped them off to ABC Recycling.

“This recovery of stolen items led us to the name of the subject of interest,” Paquet said. “(She) is known to police for property-related crimes.”

After Peace Arch News reported last Tuesday that 46 vases had been taken from grave markers at 14831 28 Ave., further thefts were discovered the next morning, increasing the tally to nearly 60.

In some cases, the culprit or culprits took vases that were in use, casting aside flowers that had been placed by family members to honour loved ones.

When contacted by PAN Wednesday, ABC Recycling’s Allan Seto confirmed a customer came to his Surrey yard the week before with an unusual number of the vases – enough to prompt him to report the cache, and the customer’s information, to police.

Bronze vase“They brought in quite a few and that’s what triggered (the suspicion),” he said. “One of our warehouse guys said this stuff doesn’t look right.”

Paquet commended Seto and his team for acting on their suspicions, and said officers are checking if other recycling facilities have received similar product.

“We’re working really hard to find the other half and close the loop for all the families that have suffered through this,” he said.

Cemetery general manager Bob Linklater credited media attention for helping “bring light to the situation.” He lauded city and provincial laws that allowed the recycler to record information that could lead police to the culprit.

“As soon as this person left, and with the laws in place, (the company) was able to call police with solid information,” Linklater said.

Enacted by the province in mid-2012, the Metal Dealers and Recyclers Act requires scrap-metal buyers to keep a daily log of purchases and suppliers. The latter must provide ID, be registered and can only be paid by cheque for amounts over $50.

Jas Rehal, Surrey’s manager of bylaw enforcement, told PAN that the act – along with changes the city made in 2008 to its own bylaws – has helped raise awareness of the issue and reduce problems.

“Now we’re at a place where the dealers really understand our requirements,” Rehal said.

Police are looking for a 42-year-old Langley woman in connection with the vases, and ask anyone with information on the remaining missing containers to call police at 604-599-0502.

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