Man Behind Bars After Grave Markers Stolen - WLNS TV 6 Lansing - Jackson | Your Local News Leader

Man Behind Bars After Grave Markers Stolen

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SHIAWASSEE, MI (WLNS) - A Shiawassee man is behind bars after police say he stole grave markers and bridge plaques for scrap. These thefts took place all over Shiawassee County.

6 News Christa Lamendola talked to police Monday about this unusual and disrespectful crime.

Graves left bare and nameless, several, and police say the grave robber didn't stop there.

Soon others started noticing things were missing.

“Noticing that the bridge plaques were missing, our county road commission noticing that the plaques were missing off our bridges within our county,” said Robert Herrick, Shiawassee Sheriff’s Office.

Shiawassee deputies arrested 49-year-old Tobe Holifield for stealing over 40 plaques and markers, adding up to $20,000.

But stealing the plaques was not the only crime here. Buying them is a crime too.

“If an individual tried to bring that in we would not buy it.”

Friedland Industries in Lansing bought historic markers like these from Michigan Bank in the past, but only from contractors and legitimate companies, not from individuals.

“If an individual comes in with a manhole cover, obviously they did not get that legally and we're not going to purchase that. We'll call the police,” said Mike Bass, Friedland Industries.

And thanks to new laws the process is now more thorough, requiring all who sell scrap to provide a driver’s license, a signature and a fingerprint.

Deputies are investigating several scrap companies in Shiawassee County for allegedly buying the plaques when they knew they were stolen.

Police say they're tried to contact the family members of the grave markers that were taken, but many of these cemeteries are old and their loved ones have also died.

Holifield is charged with two felonies. One for malicious destruction of tombs and memorial and one for felony larceny.

The sheriff says he is also a suspect in similar crimes in Genesee County.
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