Shaun Dosch, 26, of West Babylon was likely planning to melt the vases and sell them as scrap, said First Precinct Det. Lt. Robert Edwards. The vases, which people use to hold flowers for their loved ones, usually sell for about $350, Edwards said.
"People put these on their relatives' graves to memorialize them," Edwards said. "To them, they don't have a cash value. They have a sentimental value."
Dosch was held in Riverhead jail Monday night on a $60,000 cash bail and $180,000 bond.
Dosch has been charged with third-degree possession of stolen property, fifth-degree possession of stolen property and seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance because police found an illegal drug on him when he was arrested, Edwards said.
Arraignment information on Dosch was not available Monday, and a working number for Dosch could not be found in public records.
Edwards said vases have been stolen from local cemeteries for years, but there was an increase in reports beginning about five months ago.
He said police made the investigation a priority. On Saturday, a tip led them to Dosch's home at 426 York Pl., where the 22 vases were found, police said.
The vases recovered came from Pinelawn Memorial Park, but police are investigating whether Dosch played a role in the disappearances of such items from other cemeteries.
A manager at Pinelawn Memorial Park had said in November that 150 vases had been stolen from there over a period of weeks. He said at the time the cemetery had replaced the stolen vases for free.
Cemetery managers could not be reached Monday because of Presidents Day, according to someone who answered the phone there.
Edwards said police will return the vases, each of which weighs about 10 pounds, to the cemetery.
He credited First Precinct Community Oriented Police Enforcement officer Joseph Russo for his role in investigating the case.