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Prieto Bill Cracking Down On Grave Yard Thefts Passes Assembly Panel

A measure sponsored by Assemblyman Vincent Prieto that would crack down on anyone trying to sell stolen grave markers was approved by an Assembly panel this week.

“Desecrating the grave of the deceased is one of the lowest forms of theft out there,” said Prieto (D-Bergen/Hudson). “Stealing grave markers is already illegal. But by putting restrictions on the backend, to make it illegal for anyone to purchase these stolen items, it will hopefully curb such theft by making it harder for a thief to profit off of it.”

Prieto noted that last summer, three South Jersey women were arrested for allegedly stealing 380 brass markers and flower pots from veterans’ graves and attempting to sell them to a pawn shop owner who tipped off the police. At the time, police noted that the crime is becoming more and more commonplace.

The bill (A-796) would prohibit metal dealers would from receiving or purchasing any scrap metal in the form of a cemetery, grave, or historical marker or plaque unless the person delivering or selling the scrap metal has shown that the local police department or State Police certified the metal for removal, sale, or disposal.

As with other violations of the laws pertaining to scrap metal dealers, first and second violations of the bill’s provisions would be considered disorderly persons offenses and for third and subsequent offenses it would be a crime of the fourth degree.

The law would take effect on the first day of the fourth month after enactment.

The bill was approved by the Assembly Regulated Professions Committee and now awaits consideration by the full Assembly.