Metal mayhem — no questions asked

Just when you think  metal thieves have hit rock bottom, they find new ways to disgust and dismay.

But bad as they are — the latest (allegedly) stole cemetery vases from alongside gravestones — they couldn’t commit their mischief without help at the receiving end.

On Saturday, Westport Police caught a man unloading 20 brass cemetery vases at a scrapyard in town. The man had good reason to believe he’d get away with it since he had done it there many times before. His undoing this time was that a detective just happened to be paying a visit to the scrapyard and wondered what all those vases were doing there.

Busy as they certainly are, it is difficult to understand why scrapyard employees hadn’t wondered the same thing the first time this man made a 20-vase delivery — it’s even more perplexing that no questions were raised by the tenth time he returned with vases by the carload.

But that’s how it seems to work. Police reports in these towns are packed with accounts of stolen metal melted down, no questions asked. Wasn’t it just as curious when someone turned in parts of a bronze sculpture stolen from Tiverton, lengths of railroad tie taken from Portsmouth, and the assorted manhole covers, bronze plaques, air conditioners, boat propellers and copper pipe that forever turn up missing.

As usual with metal heists, the reward gained to damage done ratio is startling. Cemetery vases that cost families $200 were sold off for $16. It’s the same way with copper pipe — for the scrapyard price of a couple hundred dollars, thieves cause damage that costs tens of thousands of dollars to repair.

More difficult to measure in this case is the emotional harm done to those whose family members’ resting places were violated.

Metal thieves clearly aren’t bothered by such things.

Until scrapyards inquire (or are forced to) about the source of this loot, the metal mayhem is bound to continue.

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