DUNKIRK, Wis. - The Dane County Sheriff's Office is investigating thefts and trespass violations at St. Ann's Catholic Cemetery in the town of Dunkirk.
The caretaker of the cemetery, Tom Novak, reported several brass flower holders missing from gravesites.
Sheriff's officials said thieves also damaged half a dozen headstones, some dating back to the 1800s.
"It's considered sacred, and the families who have their families buried here, it's a great insult to them," Novak said.
The flower vases have an estimated valued of $20 to $40 each. The Sheriff's Office said the older grave markers are considered priceless.
"Thefts in general are up, and we've talked to the media about the drug problem in Dane County. And a lot of people are stealing whatever they can get their hands on, whether it's copper wire or brass vases or burglarizing homes. It's definitely been an issue lately," said Elise Schaffer, Dane County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman.
Novak said he believes the thieves will try to sell the brass vases to scrap metal yards. He said one of the brass vases stolen, in particular, was more decorative and costly, and he hopes scrap metal buyers will notice it and lead authorities to the other stolen vases.
Schaffer said tips from the public are especially helpful in cases like this. Anyone with information on the thefts or damage is asked to call the Dane County tip line at 608-284-6900.
St. Ann's is at 2504 Highway A, just outside of Stoughton.