UPDATE: Stolen Grave Markers Returned to City

By: Meghan Dwyer Email
By: Meghan Dwyer Email

UPDATE: After tens of thousands of dollars worth of vases and grave markers were taken from a local cemetery, police tell us they've returned more than 100 stolen military markers and 200 vases to the city of Beloit.

Beloit operates East Lawn Cemetery. It was all recovered at local scrap yards. Officers estimate the metal is worth $66,000. The alleged culprit was arrested yesterday.


UPDATE: On January 23, just before 6:00 p.m., Kristopher Kaehler was arrested by Roscoe Illinois Police.

He will be taken to the Winnebago County Jail awaiting further proceedings regarding the criminal allegations.


UPDATE: Beloit Police say they know who stole tens of thousands of dollars worth of vases and grave markers from a local cemetery.

Officers have issued a warrant for 27-year-old Kristopher Kaehler of Roscoe. They say he hit up East Lawn Cemetery and made off with more than 100 copper vases worth $66,000. Anyone with information on Kaehler's whereabouts is asked to call the Rock County Dispatch Center at 608-757-2244, or Beloit Area Crime Stoppers 608-362-7463.

You can also text information to 274637 then type BACS + your message.


UPDATE: Police say the stolen items now include valuable military markers, dating back to the civil war and the thieves hauled away nearly $66,000 worth of metal. Police won't say which scrapyard ended up with the valuables, but criminal charges could be filed against the business if prosecutors can prove the owners knew the items were stolen. Police say they have a suspect in mind, but they haven't been able to track him down. The thief also stole a $3,000 dollar nameplate off a grave.


STATELINE (WIFR) -- It's a haunting reality, but it looks like thieves are targeting local cemeteries this holiday season to cash in on valuable metals.

To lay a military man who fought for our country to rest and he can't even be at peace and he can't even be at peace at his final resting spot.

When Megan’s father died, the family couldn't afford a headstone, so every season they decorate his plot. Unfortunately, some people like to come steal stuff from his grave, including a 75-pound bear statue that didn't stay around for long.

“When I was growing up we were always momma, poppa, and baby bear,” said Megan Fuentes, whose father is buried at Daysville Cemetery in Oregon. “And about two weeks after we put it out here I pulled up one day and it was gone and it was the most heart wrenching feeling. It's like losing him all over again."

Cemeteries all over the Stateline have been losing valuables. In the last month, Beloit police say more than 100 copper vases have been yanked off headstones at Eastlawn Cemetery.

"They have them fairly well secured to the grave markers but other than cementing them in i don't know how you would prevent it,” said Captain Vince Sciame with the Beloit Police Department.

Many local cemeteries are run by volunteers, and that's why they simply don't have the manpower or the money for security.

Beloit Police say they're working with local scrapyards to find the culprits, but families say they've lost much more than just metal.

Some good news, the Beloit police department says they think they found the majority of the vases at a local scrapyard, and they haven't been melted down yet, so they will go back to their rightful place on their headstones later this week.

A tip to Crimestoppers, helped police find the vases. Police say the vases are worth about $350 each. 23 News will be following up on this story, trying to find out why no eyebrows were raised at the scrapyard.


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