DENVER - A 46-year-old man has been arrested and accused of stealing $30,000 worth of bronze flower vases from gravesites at Fairmount Cemetery in southeast Denver.
Last week, someone reported to investigators at Denver Police District 3 Station that "over the past year there were well over 200 headstone vases stolen from Fairmount Cemetery," police said on the District 3 Facebook page Thursday afternoon. During the investigation, police alerted nearby metal recycling facilities to report anyone bring in a haul of bronze vases.
Last week, police said in the post, "A concerned manager from the Englewood All Recycle location contacted Englewood Police that a person was coming into their business and wanting to exchange 361 pounds of cut funeral vases (Brass) for money."
While the police Facebook post said the vases were brass, a police report said they were bronze and the thief had cut the vases into pieces.
Englewood police officers responded to the recycling center on Feb. 12 and detained Christopher Schoenberger as a suspect in the thefts from Fairmont Cemetery, at 430 S. Quebec St.
Englewood officers held Schoenberger for Denver detectives,who arrested him. Police said the Denver District Attorney has charged Schoenberger with felony theft with a value of $20,000 or more and 78 misdemeanor charges for knowingly desecrating burial sites.
Schoenberger is being held on $7,000 bond at the Denver jail. He declined a 7NEWS request for an interview on Thursday afternoon.
He has a lengthy Colorado criminal history, including arrests for felony drug possession, assault, domestic violence, resisting arrest, DUI, and violating a protection order, according to state arrest records.
Olinger Hampden Cemetery and Mortuary confirmed to 7NEWS that dozens, if not hundreds of bronze vases were stolen from graves over ten days in December.
Loved ones said they're upset not by the cost of the stolen vases, but the hard-hearted nature of the crime.
"It's just the lowest of the low to steal from a gravesite," Barbara Barton, who had vases stolen from her parents and grandparents graves at Olinger Cemetery, told 7NEWS.
"My dad was buried 49 years ago out here. My mother -- about 17," she said. "You can just look around. All the vases are gone. On my parents' grave, you can see the hole that is left from the vase being ripped out."