PORTLAND, Maine — A large quantity of memorial vases stolen from a Portland cemetery were recovered Thursday, thanks to a tip from a Sanford business owner.
Sixty solid bronze memorial vases had been reported stolen from Brooklawn cemetery between Nov. 7 and 12, according to Nicole Clegg, Portland’s director of communications.
“Someone came in to sell them, and because of the high level of publicity this case generated, the store owner knew where they likely had come from and called police,” said Clegg. “That cemetery only has flat stones, no headstones, and a lot of them have holes created specifically for these vases, which are used to hold things like flowers and flags.”
“I think we can safely say this is a unique crime,” said Clegg. “And we also had some refurbished antique eagle statues that were stolen from the Custom House, but both of them were recovered in a parking lot.”
Fred Smith, who owns JMS Cleaning in Sanford, often purchases scrap metal, so he contacted Portland police when someone came into his store trying to sell memorial vases.
Smith, with assistance from Sanford police, helped to identify a suspect who is currently incarcerated at the York County Jail on unrelated charges. Clegg said Friday the incarcerated suspect’s name has not yet been released because he hasn’t been formally charged. Once he is charged for the vase thefts, his identity will be released.
“As they were interviewing this suspect on the other charges, it became apparent to investigators that there may be other charges forthcoming from the theft of these vases,” Clegg said.
Clegg said the man is expected to face charges in relation to the theft of the vases.
The total value of the 48 recovered vases is $10,000. Anyone with information on the investigation is urged to call Portland police at 874-8533.
Clegg lauded the collaborative efforts between law enforcement, the media and the public for the timely recovery of the vases and identifying a suspect, as well as the two eagle statues.
The investigation is continuing, as are efforts to recover the remaining memorial vases.