Police catch grave robber

Investigators put out the bait and target bit.
Register
Jun 11, 2013

By Courtney Astolfi
astolfi@sanduskyregister.com

With some help from state officials and their fancy electronic gadgetry, Sandusky police nabbed a suspect in a long-running theft scheme targeting grave ornaments and tombstone markers at Oakland Cemetery and other burial plots.  

Jeffrey Huey, 23, of the 3200 block of County Road 213 in Clyde, was charged with felonious theft, felonious breaking and entering and felonious vandalism.

He was arrested Friday. 

Over the past month, Sandusky police had been receiving several complaints about flower pots, urns, benches and trees missing from Oakland Cemetery on Milan Road. Officers were stumped by the numerous disappearances, and they assumed someone was scrapping the metal pieces for cash.

They soon launched an investigation, opting to install surveillance cameras in hopes of catching the thief in action.

On May 31, detectives placed a potted palm tree in the same spot where two other trees had disappeared. They outfitted the palm tree with an electronic monitoring device, police said, and they also fixed their cameras on the bait tree. 

And then they waited.

Footage from the surveillance cameras show Huey arriving at Oakland Cemetery at 2 p.m. Friday. The footage shows Huey wrapping a sheet around the bait tree, and then loading it into his white Ford Explorer before leaving the site. Sandusky and Perkins police then followed Huey down Milan Road, stopping him just south of the Ohio 2 overpass, palm tree in tow.

Huey told officers he picked up the plant from a family gravesite on behalf of a friend. His story unravelled quickly however, when he was unable provide officers with the friend’s name, a report said.

Huey soon admitted to stealing the palm tree, as well as taking three cement pots from the same cemetery, police said. He also said he was storing the items at his Clyde home.

Sandusky County deputies and Clyde police met Sandusky detectives at Huey’s home, where to their great surprise, they found dozens of grave ornaments lining his driveway. 

“As soon as we pulled in the driveway, our jaws dropped at the amount of stuff he had on the side of the driveway,” Sandusky police Detective Gary Wichman said. The items are likely worth thousands of dollars, Wichman said, although it’s difficult to put a price on property of that sort.

An Oakland Cemetery groundskeeper identified the items that were taken from Sandusky, and deputies are sorting through the remainder of the collection. 

Huey’s parents referred to their son as a “scrapper,” but the range of items stolen indicate some other purpose. Wichman theorized Huey, who referred to himself as an artisan, was re-working the ornaments for resale.

Police and deputies have since recovered property stolen from cemeteries across northern Ohio and southern Michigan. Sandusky County deputies are conducting their own investigation into Huey, who will likely face additional charges through their department.

In the meantime, detectives are urging family and friends to identify and claim any items stolen from a loved one’s gravesite. They have also asked for anyone that may have purchased an item from Huey to come forward.

Huey remains in the Erie County jail on $20,000 bond.

Comments

Common Sense

Is it possible that this young man also stole from other cemeteries in the area? If so, where do we go to seek out the grave adornments? Personally, I am looking for wreaths that I made for the past Easter season that were taken from Calvary Cemetery.

Lil DAB

This link contains pictures of many of the stolen items.
http://www.toledoblade.com/galle...

Stonecrusher

Way to stoop to a real low. One step away from actually digging up a grave to steal from the dead. What an idiot!

Isn't Oakland Cemetery in Perkins Township?

richrs

It's owned by the city, same as the old landfill on Oldrailroad Rd.

Just Sayin IMHO

Yes, it is in Perkins Township.

tired of stupidy

geeee mom and dad didn't it seem funny that all these things kinda look alike duh what did he do with the brass doors from Norwalk I think they should plant him in the cemetery up to his waist and let him keep a eye on the place way to go babey huey

csnighthawk

@ tired, That's right! Whatever did happen to the brass doors?

Lissa4u

Apples don't fall too far from trees. His parents probably didn't teach him right from wrong. They don't care that he stole stuff. They'll find a way to blame it on the cemetery.

Tootsiemomma

This guy showed absolutely no respect for the dead or their families. What a creep !! What did his parents think of this and where did they think their son was getting this stuff from?

acastello

I really think true justice would mean he talk to EVERY family and answer some questions. Perhaps be asked to write a biography on every person he stole from.

The Answer Person

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Personal attacks (including: name calling, presumption of guilt or guilt by association, insensitivity, or picking fights).

sandtown born a...

I believe they hung you for grave robbing back in the old days

SamAdams

There's absolutely nothing wrong with "scrapping." Nothing wrong with refurbishing and repurposing things out of the trash, either. But there's an awfully big difference between picking something up curbside that's waiting for trash haulers and taking something off somebody's front porch! And this? This is MUCH worse! As far as I'm concerned, it's little different than actually digging up a grave. "Vandalism" and "theft" somehow don't seem enough...

At least he was caught, and at least he's being charged with felonies. Here's hoping that, if he's found guilty, he serves an appropriate sentence and not some lame plea deal punishment!

so.....

The things people think of to do....geesh

Just Sayin IMHO

I bet his mind is haunted. Wouldn't yours be? That is a mind breaker right there.... I wonder how he justified it in his own mind.

OH-IO

Now this takes the bait. I mean cake. Murder and mayhem is worst but this Is down right sorry.

candleburner

This guy is a real piece of work and I would be surprised if he wasn't the one that did the vandalism to my baby cousin's grave. We couldn't figure out what had happened to his grave but there was definitely something wrong with it. Going to contact his brother - since both his parents have passed as well - and have him go and check this out. This is just sick!!!

shucks

Really clever detective work- bait tree -FUNNY!

starryeyes83

Bet he's the one who took the urns from a relative's grandparents' graves in Bellevue Cemetery I believe they were urns with lions on it. this was about 4 years ago.

"SCRAPPER" = THEIF!!!

BAIT TREE -- LOVE IT!!! Good Work!

starryeyes83

FYI:

A few years ago, I was told even IF you have stuff on your curb as trash - until the trashmen pick it up it -is still considered stolen property. If the people do not ask you permission to take it , first.

I learned this after a gentleman stopped and asked permission to take a piece of furniture, I had out and this is what he told me. Maybe it varies city to city, perhaps.

Julie R.

If that's true, it must not apply in Huron. Every time I (and others on the street) put something out for recycling somebody comes and takes it. Last time was Sunday. Cleaned out the shed and put some rusted broken tools and an old broom in the recycling bin. Didn't see who took it but within an hour or two it was all gone.

Left Sandtown

This guy had a great idea to start his business,no overhead and start up costs.To bad his idea hit a dead end!!Gob Bless the victims.

Finn Finn

Is that an ADT sign in Photo 13?

Firelandsobserver

This is despicable.

Simple Enough II

What a dick! I mean Richard!

shucks

A big incredible a$$hole !!!
Those angel statues are from babies and children's graves.