Mounties in Surrey believe that metal thieves are responsible for the theft of a staggering 175 flower vases from grave sites at a local cemetery.
An investigation into the cruel stealing spree was launched on April 26 after a grieving mother called police to say the bronze vase used to hold flowers on his grave had been removed.
Upon further inspection of the graves at Valley View Funeral Home and Cemetery, it was determined that approximately 175 were missing.
Although it's unclear if they were taken all at once or over several days, Cpl. Scotty Schumann believes it was an organized operation.
"We're almost certain that this is the work of metal thieves that are selling those vases in exchange for money," he said.
One of the victims told CTV News it's almost too difficult to comprehend.
"I don't want to even take it to heart so much because it's a very, very difficult thing," said Mira Miloica.
Funeral home manager Justin Shultz said it appears the incidents were confined to two garden areas on its grounds. The vases are designed to be placed in a grave to allow them to be flush with the ground, he said.
The facility is now working with its suppliers for vase options that would be less attractive to thieves "in terms of cash value," said Shultz.
Security protocols at the funeral home are being re-assessed and guard patrols have been stepped up. Shultz says right now working with victims is their priority.
"We're incredibly upset for these families," he said.
The investigation is being led by the Surrey RCMP in conjunction with its Newton Crime Reduction Unit.
Mounties are asking people to keep an eye out for the metallic bronze-coloured vases.
While "nefarious" metal recyclers have been blamed for other similar thefts in the past, Schumann said 95 per cent of those businesses are now law abiding and respectful members of the community.
"But sometimes, money just makes people greedy," he said.
In 2013, Surrey RCMP investigated a similar theft at Victory Memorial Park, after 60 bronze vases were stolen.
It was the second time in recent years the cemetery was the target of thieves. Bronze nameplates were ripped off of several graves in 2007. Although the plates were eventually replaced, none were recovered.