Three people were caught for allegedly stealing bronze vases that marked gravestones at a cemetery in Woodland after they tried to recycle the metal for money.
"Our families are upset. Very upset. Other families are very upset and not understanding, so we have to work with them as best we can to help them understand," Lyle Tippetts said.
Tippetts is a family services councilor at Monument Hill Cemetery in Woodland. He is now responsible for telling 92 families that their loved ones graves have been robbed.
"Families think this ground is sacred," Tippets said.
But three thieves thought the cemetery looked more like a gold mine.
The Yolo County Sheriff's Department arrested Woodland residents 22-year-old Kristen Farnham, 26-year-old Jamie Douglas Stephens, and 46-year-old Pam Michele Logan in relation to the thefts. They all face charges related to possession of stolen property and conspiracy.
Authorities say Stephens faces grand theft charges because many of the vases were found in the trunk of his car.
"Growing up around here, I have family buried out there too. So it means a lot getting those people caught," a worker named Blake at Green Zone Recycling said.
Blake told FOX40 Farnham brought large chunks of bronze into the recycling facility on April 15.
He said it was easy to identify the chunks of bronze as pieces of the stolen vases, especially because the Sheriff's Office had already warned local recycling centers of the thefts.
"We saw them so I let my boss know. We put a three day hold payment on it. We didn't pay them, we instead called the sheriff’s department and they came down and arrested them right away," Blake said.
Blake told FOX40 the vases, which are valued at $200 apiece, were only worth about $5 a piece when recycled.
"It's totally disrespectful and not worth it," Blake said.
It makes sense to Tippetts that the thieves wouldn't know the value of redemption.
"They don't think about this karma, or retribution, or justice. Of course now they're not going to make any money off this, because they got caught. And that's satisfying," Tippets said.