They mostly come to loot scrap metal these days, but some creep into cemeteries hunting for antiques, flowers and even body parts. Grave robbers -- so long established in history as to be cursed on the walls of Egyptian pyramids -- are plundering cemeteries around the country for items that can be sold for cash.
In West Virginia, they've gone after vases bolted to headstones. In Washington state, they've targeted bronze markers on veterans' graves. In Chicago, it was nearly half a million dollars' worth of brass ornaments.
"It's a crisis of the times," said Ruth Shapleigh-Brown, executive director of the Connecticut Gravestone Network, which monitors cemeteries for theft and vandalism. "People are finding a way to make money."
The bane of civilization for probably always.