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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – An arrest was made Tuesday night in a series of thefts at a historic Bronx cemetery.
Earlier in the day, police released a photo of 56-year-old Louis Peduto, who they said was seen inside the cemetery on Monday morning in possession of stolen brass handles and air vents.
While conducting a patrol inside 3178 E. Tremont Ave., Tuesday night, uniformed officers found Peduto, who is homeless, and placed him under arrest.
Officials said $160,000 worth of bronze and other metals from at least 60 mausoleums and grave sites at St. Raymond’s Cemetery in Throgs Neck had been stolen, 1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa reported Tuesday.
“At some point late last week, started to notice that items were missing from different mausoleums or different grave sites,” said Chief Security Officer Matthew Horace with FJC Security Service, the company used by St. Raymond’s.
“It’s a terrible crime. This is where people come to bury their loved ones,” Horace told CBS 2′s John Slattery.
The stolen items which could be sold as scrap metal include door handles, name plates and vents, Papa reported.
“There were items that were made of brass or copper that were stolen and we all know that right now on the open market, brass and copper yields a profit,” Horace told WCBS 880′s Alex Silverman. ”Criminals and thugs try to steal these things.”
Police said, in all, 63 mausoleums have been hit, CBS 2′s Slattery reported.
It is unclear when the alleged thefts occurred, but Horace said a guard recently confronted a man on the property who ran off, leaving behind a bag of burglary tools, Papa reported.
“The person fled and dropped the bag that we believe has burglary tools in the bag,” Horace told Silverman.
The 180-acre cemetery is one of the busiest in the United States, with nearly 4,000 burials each year, according to its website.
Celebrities buried at the cemetery include jazz singer Billie Holiday and former boxing champion Hector “Macho” Camacho.
“There are a lot of places in here where people can hide or walk, particularly at nighttime,” Horace said.
Visitors to the cemetery called the thefts sad, disgraceful and disrespectful, Papa reported.
“It’s horrible. You have to have respect for the dead,” Alicia DeCurtis said, adding when asked about the bronze plaque on brother’s grave, “I figured, let me get a hold of it before the thieves get a hold of it.”
Anyone with information is asked to call Crime stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477).
Tips can also be submitted to the Crime Stoppers website or by texting 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.
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