Thieves raid century-old graves at historic Woodmere Cemetery in Detroit

The metal scrapping epidemic in Detroit has destroyed
schools, houses, libraries, apartment buildings and historic churches.

From manhole covers to ornate copper roofs, thieves are leaving nothing untouched to cash in on historically high metal prices.

In the latest theft, someone raided century-old mausoleums of bronze and copper doors and metal memorials at the historic Woodmere Cemetery in southwest Detroit, cemetery officials confirmed Saturday evening.

Founded in 1867, Woodmere Cemetery is the resting place of mayors, senators, judges, authors, lumber barons and Civil War soldiers.

The police department’s metal theft unit has reported a rise in vandalisms at cemeteries, where brass vases, copper grave plates and historic wrought iron fences are being stolen.

Catching the thieves is difficult. The police department is understaffed; scrapyards are operating with little to no scrutiny; and cemeteries and other historic areas often aren’t guarded, especially at night.

Check out our investigation of metal thieves and scrapyards at the Packard Plant.

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.