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Man arrested in Beloit cemetery thefts

Published On: Jan 30 2013 03:40:34 PM CST   Updated On: Jan 24 2013 07:18:53 PM CST
Kristopher W. Kaehler
BELOIT, Wis. -

Beloit police said an Illinois man has been arrested in the theft of grave vases and military markers stolen from a Wisconsin graveyard.

Police in Roscoe, Ill., arrested 27-year-old Kristopher Kaehler Wednesday.

An arrest warrant had been issued for Kaehler in the theft of grave vases and military markers from Eastlawn Cemetery in Beloit. The warrant charges Kaehler with criminal damage to a cemetery and theft of more than $10,000 in property.

Beloit police began investigating the thefts in late December. As of mid-January, police had recovered 181 vases and 112 military grave markers from area scrap yards.

"The proprietor there remembered the items, but he had already transferred them to a Janesville scrap yard and, fortunately for us, we were about one day ahead of them being shipped to be melted down," said Capt. Vince Sciame, of the Beloit Police Department.

The director of the cemetery, Robert Pokorney, said replacing the vases would have cost the families between $300 to $1,000.

Pokorney said some of the vases were also broken when they were removed, and he's asking for a little patience as he works to match each vase to its marker and make repairs.

"There are different styles, different colors, so with the number of vases stolen it's a little bit of a project," Pokorney said.

Kaehler is being held in the Winnebago County Jail in Illinois, awaiting extradition. Online court records do not list a defense attorney.

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