WHITTIER – Deputies say that for more than a month, a man pried 85 bronze markers off graves at Rose Hills Memorial Park and Mortuary and sold them as scrap metal to a recycling center. Detectives said the markers were valued at $100,000. To explain why he kept showing up with the markers, detectives said the man allegedly told the recycling center he works for the cemetery, which supposedly was undergoing remodeling. It wasn’t. Nor was he an employee of Rose Hills. The suspect, 47-year-old David Torres, will be arraigned Tuesday at Norwalk Superior Court on 25 felony counts that include grand theft of personal property, petty theft, cemetery vandalism and receiving stolen property. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWhicker: Clemson demonstrates that it’s tough to knock out the champHe was charged for crimes that happened between Sept. 18 and Oct. 25. Torres pleaded not guilty at an earlier arraignment, according to Sandi Gibbons, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. Torres is being held at the Pitchess Detention Center East Facility in Castaic in lieu of $170,000 bail. Authorities didn’t say how much selling the grave markers could fetch. But all agreed it was a rare case. “Oh absolutely. Very unusual,” said sheriff’s Sgt. Al Leyva. “We have not encountered any (like) this. A new form of thievery.” Olivia Rosales, the head deputy district attorney for Whittier Superior Court where Torres had his preliminary hearing, said she’s never heard of anything like this before. “It’s very sick,” she said. Leyva said the thefts occurred between August and October and happened in the daytime when the park was open. Rose Hills reported the incidents to the sheriff’s Pico Rivera station. The markers were taken from the older section of the cemetery, according to Nick Clark, director of marketing and communications for Rose Hills. He said it is part of the park that was opened in 1914. “It’s not a highly visited area,” he added. Clark said all missing markers have been returned and will be reset in concrete and put back on the graves early next year. Rose Hills has not notified the relatives about the thefts. “It is our intent,” Clark said. “We’re putting together a plan.” While he declined to divulge the additional security measures Rose Hills implemented after the thefts, Clark did say they have increased patrol in the park, which sits on 1,400 to 1,500 acres and houses about 400,000 graves. The markers ranged in size, but the average was 16 inches by 28 inches. They weigh between 4 and 6 pounds, Clark said. He didn’t know how much the markers sold for in 1914 or other years. Today, he said a bronze plaque like that sells for $557 to $968. Deputies said Torres allegedly worked alone. “He was prying them from the ground, breaking the concrete and taking the markers to a recycling center,” Leyva said. “As far as we know he only hit Rose Hills.” Leyva declined to name the recycling center where deputies found the markers shortly after Torres’ Nov. 1 arrest. Nov. 1 is All Saints’ Day. A break in the case came when a cemetery employee spotted the alleged thief and jotted down a license plate number, Leyva said. He said the car didn’t belong to Torres but deputies collected information that led them to the Lancer Motel on Rosemead Boulevard in Pico Rivera where Torres was staying. [email protected] (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3026160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!
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