Las Cruces – Due to a recent series of thefts, Dona Ana County Sheriff's Deputies have been heavily patrolling local cemeteries looking for the individuals responsible.
Yesterday evening (1/24/11) at approximately 8 pm, 2 male subjects were observed kicking over cemetery vases and loading them into a car at Hillcrest Memorial Gardens Cemetery on Picacho Avenue in Las Cruces. They were stopped by deputies who observed numerous cemetery vases in the vehicle. The men were detained and taken to the Sheriff's Office to be interviewed by criminal investigators. Both men admitted to stealing the vases, and said that they were planning to sell them for 2 dollars each in Anthony, Texas. The total value of what was taken was over $29,000, each vase is valued at $450.
Juan Manuel Torres, 33, of El Paso and his brother Alberto Torres, 29, also of El Paso were arrested and booked into the Dona Ana County Detention Center, each charged with the following offenses:
Larceny over $20,000 (2nd Degree Felony)
Conspiracy to Commit a 2nd Degree Felony (3rd Degree Felony)
66 counts of Disturbing a Marked Burial Ground (4th Degree Felony)
Both men have a Surety bond of $25,000.
The investigation is ongoing to determine if any additional subjects are involved or if either man has any connection to previous thefts at this or other locations.
Alberto Torres at the time of arrest was wearing a work shirt for a Cemetery in El Paso. It was later confirmed that he does in fact work for a cemetery as a maintenance man.