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Court docs: Man stole brass grave markers and scrapped them for more than $40K

Catlin Hessler is accused of stealing more than 1,000 of the numbered brass markers employees use to mark the graves over several months.
Credit: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office
Catlin Hessler

LITCHFIELD PARK, Ariz. — A man was arrested for stealing more than 1,000 brass grave markers from a Litchfield Park cemetery over several months, according to court documents. 

The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office said the court paperwork they received 11 calls since May at White Tanks Cemetery about someone stealing the round brass markers cemetery employees used to mark the graves.

The staff told deputies at one point they were even setting up cameras to try to record the suspect in the act, court documents show.

In August, a person reported a suspicious car at the cemetery and provided a description and license plate number.

Deputies said they visited the home where the car was registered and contacted Catlin James Hessler. He told deputies he was at the White Tanks Cemetery visiting his girlfriend’s grave.

Detectives checked law enforcement databases and found 11 different transactions between May and September at a salvage yard for brass sales from Hessler, court documents show.

When detectives went to the salvage yard, the manager told them Hessler brought several hockey-puck sized discs with numbers engraved on them.

He said he remembered Hessler bringing the grave markers in a plastic milk crate, about 20 at a time.

The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office said about 1,770 grave markers were stolen from White Tanks Cemetery. The total cost of the stolen brass markers is $43,234, according to court documents.

Hessler was charged with burglary and trafficking stolen property, court documents say.