Hundreds of pounds of brass stolen from East Texas grave sites - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Hundreds of pounds of brass stolen from East Texas grave sites

Footstone missing from East Texas cemetary. (Source: KLTV staff) Footstone missing from East Texas cemetary. (Source: KLTV staff)

It is supposed to be a place of peace, but recently thieves have turned grave sites across East Texas into crime scenes. KLTV spoke exclusively with the Van Zandt County Constable’s Office as they investigated the theft of hundreds of pounds of brass from East Texas grave sites.

These thieves are using the grave markers of East Texans to pay their bills.

“This sign here was my mom’s sign and you can see where the foot stone was. And this was my pop’s side and that’s where his foot stone was,” said Frank E. Williams III, pointing to the spot where his parent’s foot stones once stood.

Now they’re gone. Frank stops by his parent’s grave site often to pay his respects, but when he showed up last week, respect was taken away.

“I mean, they’re supposed to be at peace and at rest, you know, they’re not supposed to be decimated. By stealing something so petty, you know, that’s ridiculous,” he said.

Thieves had stolen the brass foot stones and vase that once sat there. His father’s marker was a special military plaque.

“I think that that’s the most despicable thing that anybody could do to a person, you know, to wait until they’re dead to display disgrace to them,” he said.

Officials said cemeteries across East Texas have been hit and possibly hundreds of graves. KLTV 7 was there as the investigation unfolded.

“He’s at the wrong place because we don’t purchase any cemetery brass,” Tom Curtis, the manager at Tyler Iron and Metal, said.

Each scrap metal shop we visited said they train their employees to look for cemetery plaques or vases and never accept them without proper documentation. But officials said the thieves are getting around that.

“What they’re doing is they’re taking this brass and it appears they’re cutting it up into smaller pieces, maybe even hammering some of it down, you know, with a sledge hammer, cutting it up,” Constable Pat Jordan with Van Zandt County Precinct Four, said.

That makes it unrecognizable to scrap metal workers.

“If they broke it up into small enough pieces and it’s not recognizable it might have slipped by us, but that would be the only way,” Curtis explained.

Each foot stone or vase can be sold for about $2.00 per pound.

“We’ve seen vandalism and stuff over the years, but just recently, I guess, over the past few years we’ve seen some of the brass being stolen from cemeteries,” Constable Jordan said.

They said they have a suspect, but have no surveillance video from those cemeteries. Now, they need your help with the future of this investigation.

“If you have loved ones with any kind of brass markers or vases to see if they’re still there,” Constable Jordan explained.

They said hundreds, maybe even thousands, of pounds have already been sold and they want justice for the families.

“Somebody wouldn’t steal from my pop if he was alive, I know that,” Williams said. “And to do it when he’s dead, that’s wrong.”

The thief or thieves involved could face several felony charges from desecration of a grave site to theft. If they are caught, those families could be compensated once the thieves are prosecuted.

That’s why the constable’s office is asking for you to come forward if you have noticed anything missing from a loved one’s grave site. To contact them and fill out a report call (903) 833-5705 or email

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