LODI — A Lodi cemetery worker has been arrested in the theft of hundreds of bronze vases from grave sites across San Joaquin County.
Joel Meza Chavez, 31, was being held in lieu of $1.7-million bail on suspicion of grand theft, theft from cemeteries and possession of stolen property after sheriff's deputies recovered 777 bronze vases from six scrap yards around the county.
Each vase was valued at about $70 but cost families about $100 to replace.
Deputies issued 17 tickets and made two arrests this week at scrap yards they said were not following state law.
San Joaquin County Sheriff's Det. Gary Sanchez said recycling center records led them to Chavez, who had worked at Lodi Memorial Cemetery about five months.