Following the second report of brass graveside vases being stolen from Highland Memorial Park since April, reported the arrest of a Johnston man after he tried to sell four vases for scrap.
Officers charged Andrew Poland, 26, of 273 Greenville Ave., with a misdemeanor count of receiving stolen goods on Tuesday following an investigation into the apparent theft of 40 ceremonial vases from the cemetery.
Ptlm. Stephen Altomari reported on June 27 that he went to the Metals Recycling building off Killingly Street in response to a report of possibly stolen property.
An employee of the recycling company, Liam McDermott, told Altomari that Poland had sold four brass vases for scrap just before 8:30 am that morning.
Altomari noted that the vases "appear[ed] to be identical to numerous vases that were stolen" in a previous case in April.
In the previous incident, police charged Charles R. King, 26, of 18 Angell St., with felony desecration of graves, receiving stolen goods, and larceny over $500 for .
King is currently awaiting trial on the charges.
On July 10, Det. Brian Loffredo reported that he went to the ScrapTheftAlert.com website and posted an alert on the new thefts.
Loffredo wrote that he then went to Highland and spoke with the owner, Joseph Swift, who reported that 40 more vases have been stolen since late June.
When he showed Swift the four vases from Metals Recycling, Loffredo reported, Swift "positively identified the cemetery vases as property belonging to the ground memorials at Highland Memorial Cemetery."
Loffredo wrote that he went to Metals Recycling and spoke to supervisor Michael Laplante, who said he had seen the alert online about the vases and confirmed that he had paid Poland $34.04 for the four vases.
Laplante said he "did not want to alert Andrew Poland" that he knew of the apparent thefts, and called the police department following the transaction, Loffredo reported.
After trying to reach Poland by phone, Loffredo reported that he went to Poland's last known address on Greenville Avenue, but did not get an answer.
Loffredo said he contacted Poland on July 12 and told him about the investigation into the vases.
Poland "stated he needed to consult with his attorney prior to coming to headquarters to speak with me," Loffredo wrote.
On July 17, Poland went to the police department and spoke with Loffredo.
According to Loffredo's report, Poland claimed he had found the vases listed in Craigslist and drove to an address in Warwick to pick them up from the sidewalk, but said he couldn't remember where the house was located.
Loffredo said he then tried to find the listing that Poland said had been on the website, with "negative results."
When asked whether he had ever been to Highland Memorial and had taken the vases, Poland said "no," according to Loffredo's report. Poland also denied knowing King, the suspect in the previous thefts.
Loffredo wrote that, because Poland admitted to selling the Highland vases for scrap, officers formally arrested him on the stolen goods charge and presented him for arraignment on Tuesday in Third District Court, Warwick.