Police arrest Niles woman for alleged cemetery thefts

Published 11:39 am Thursday, July 31, 2003

By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- A Niles woman with dozens of flower pots in her vehicle was arrested at Silverbrook Cemetery on Saturday.
Kathleen Hall Brazo, 50, 1516 S. 13th St., Niles, was arrested on Saturday July 26, pending charges for alleged larceny of flower pots after a police officer searched her vehicle inside the cemetery, the police report said.
She was also arrested for allegedly operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, transporting an open container and driving with an expired license.
Upon searching the vehicle, the officer found 24 flower pots stored in the back and front seat of the vehicle Brazo was driving.
Police have kept a closer eye on the cemetery lately after numerous reports from residents about the theft of flowers, flower pots and other decorations families and friends leave on loved ones graves.
Capt. Jim Merriman, Niles City Police, said the flower pots Brazo had in her car have been returned to the cemetery.
He hopes Brazo's arrest may discourage other people from doing what she did.
Merriman said police take these cases seriously.
He said this type of offense will usually be treated as a misdemeanor, but it depends on the value of the damage done, or in this case, the amount of flower pots stolen.
Merriman said Brazo will have to take the consequences for her action.
Brazo, however, said she never intended to steal the flowers and she feels humiliated after the arrest.
Contacted at her home on Wednesday afternoon, Brazo said before the arrest she was visiting the grave of a close friend who passed away two years ago.
She said her friend had been a father figure to her. Brazo said she was drinking wine by the grave, feeling depressed and lonely.
She said she looked around and thought several of the plants around gravesites near her friend's looked neglected and in need of water.
She was arrested as she was about to leave the cemetery with the flower pots in her car.
Brazo said all she wanted to do was make the plants look nice again so that the graves around her friend's grave would look nice, too. She said her intention was always to put the flowers back where she had taken them from.
Brazo said she understands people who may think her action was inappropriate.
Brazo, who spends a lot of time at the cemetery, said she is not allowed back in, not even to visit her friend's grave anymore.
Although Brazo's intention may not have been to steal the flower pots, Joe Ray, engineering technician at the City of Niles Public Works Department, said theft of flowers, flower pots and other objects people leave on graves at Silverbrook Cemetery, is common.
The city, however, is not responsible for anything people leave behind at the cemetery, he said.