WORCESTER (CBS) – A Southbridge man is under arrest, accused of stealing dozens of bronze and brass vases off cemetery grave markers.

Worcester police say Matthew Lutes swiped the flower vases, which are part of cemetery grave markers, and tried to scrap them for cash.

Police began to investigate after a Southbridge scrap metal business owner became suspicious of Lutes and contacted officers.

Investigators managed to trace the vases to the Rural Cemetery on Grove Street in Worcester.

An inspection found 67 vases were missing from graves there.

Officers have recovered five of those vases but say Lutes scrapped 44 of them, getting $444.77 in return.

Cemetery officials say the cost to replace each vase is $300, putting the total price of the 67 vases around $20,000.

Police had an easy time tracking down Lutes, who had given his name to the scrap business owner, as required by law.

He told the scrap owner and police that he recovered the vases from a demolished building.

Lutes is charged with crimes against chastity, morality, decency and good order; defacing and mutilating a gravestone and on the warrant for receiving stolen property.


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