Cops hunting cemetery theft suspect

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UPDATE - Police report suspect was taken into custody Tuesday afternoon

Cops have identified a suspect in the theft of what could be up to $160,000 in valuable bronze ripped off from mausoleums at St. Raymond’s Cemetery in Throggs Neck.

And it turns out, it appears the suspect treated the cemetery as easy pickings, according to sources, returning over the past several months to rip off the fixtures to sell for drug money.

A cemetery worker surprised the suspect, identified by police as Louis Peduto, 56, a few days ago at a mausoleum in the Catholic cemetery off E. Tremont Avenue.

“The employee walks up to the guy and asks him ‘What are you doing,’” said a police source. “He takes a picture of him and the guy takes off, leaving his bag behind.”

The worker later identified the suspect in “a six pack” photo array, police said.

Cops are now searching for Peduto, described as “a homeless heroin junkie.”

“He’s a bottom feeder, with a string of 30 collars for drugs, farebeating and other minor arrests,” said a police source.

Armed with a mug shot of Peduto, “We’re now checking out scrap metal places, subways, relatives places,” said the source. “We’re also working drug C.I.’s (confidential informants).”

Cops believe Peduto sawed off valuable bronze door handles, name plates and vents over a lengthy period of time.

“You can tell from the green oxidation where the cuts were made that it’s been going on for awhile,” said a law enforcement source.

Calls to St. Raymond’s Cemetery got an answering machine with a message that the cemetery office was closed.

But a local funeral director said that while the cemetery usually has one car patrolling, it probably isn’t enough to cover all the territory.

The cemetery is divided into the old cemetery which runs along E. Tremont Ave. and the new cemetery on the south side of Lafayette Avenue next to the Hutchinson River Parkway and the Throgs Neck Bridge approach.

“To do it right, you probably need at least three cars to cover both cemeteries,” said the funeral director, who asked not to be named. “That’s a lot of territory to cover.”

The cemetery was virtually empty yesterday morning, but local City Councilman Jimmy Vacca responded to the thievery, saying he was outraged.

“ Only desperate and rotten people would do something like this,” said Vacca. “The words disgusting and beneath contempt only begin to describe how I feel about anyone who would vandalize a grave site. “

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