YORK A Clover man is accused of stealing 39 vases from a York cemetery and selling them to a recycling company for $400.
Clover Police on Saturday arrested Charles Wayne Cochran, 42, of 126 Heatherwood Court, after York County Sheriff’s deputies issued warrants on him for grand larceny and grave desecration, according to a sheriff’s report.
Nov. 28, employees at York’s Lakeview Memory Gardens, where many veterans are buried, reported 18 bronze vases valued at $5,400 were stolen from the cemetery grounds, another report states. Officials found a cigarette butt on one of the markers. The next day, employees at the same cemetery said 21 more vases worth more than $6,000 were stolen.
Deputies spoke with an employee at a metal recycling center in Gastonia, N.C., who said Cochran asked him a few weeks back if the company took cemetery vases. Police interviewed Cochran, who denied stealing the vases but did consent to a polygraph test.
The manager of a Dallas, N.C., recycling center told authorities that Cochran brought in cemetery vases on Nov. 28 and Nov. 29 to sell for scrap. He received $451.50 for the vases, which he had “cut up” into pieces of metal before he made the exchange, Sheriff’s Office spokesman Trent Faris said.
Cochran was being held Wednesday at the York County Detention Center on a $25,000 bond.
Records with the State Law Enforcement Division show Cochran has a criminal history, including convictions for assault and battery, driving under the influence, hunting deer at night and several drug charges.
Deputies this year have noticed a trend in scrap metal theft. In September, officials released information showing that more than $400,000 of scrap metal had been stolen in the county within a year. That same month, authorities arrested and charged eight employees at scrap metal businesses when they accepted metal without checking to see whether sellers had proper permits.
State law requires people wanting to transport more than 25 pounds of nonferrous metals, which includes catalytic converters, copper and aluminum, to have a transportation permit number.
County residents who want to transport metals can visit the York County Sheriff’s Office or call (803) 628-3059.