Three war memorial plaques commemorating U.S. military service members were recently stolen from a park in San Diego County and police are now looking for the culprits behind the crime.
For more than 60 years, the war memorial plaques have decorated Kimball Park Stadium in San Diego’s National City area. The brass plaques were dedicated to servicemen hailing from National City who died serving the United States during World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars.
According to the National City Police Department (NCPD), two of the plaques were reported stolen on Monday. The third plaque was snatched from the park that same night.
Police said two of the plaques measure 3 feet by 4 feet, and the third measures 4 feet by 5 feet.
One of the stolen plaques states: “In memoriam of the men of National City who made the supreme sacrifice for their country in World War II, 1941-1945.”
Another plaque, which lists names of late, local U.S. servicemen, says: “In honor and memory of the citizens of National City who gave their lives in the service of their country during the Korean War and the Vietnam Conflict.”
As of Tuesday evening, the suspect or suspects responsible for stealing the war memorial plaques remained at large.
News of the thefts shocked local Navy veteran Rick Devries.
“It's just so disrespectful that they fact that someone would do this,” he said.
“The names on that plaque were veterans from National City that lost their lives defending the country so these people could be on the street and live their life. To disrespect the veterans is one thing but to disrespect the veterans who died so they could be out there, for the people of National City is just beyond,” Devries continued. “It tears at my gut that someone would be that low to do this.”
Last month, NBC 7 San Diego reported a similar theft happening at Greenwood Memorial Park in San Diego, which is home to a large number of gravesites of U.S. veterans.
There, as the general manager said, someone is stealing bronze vases meant to hold flowers that sit atop some veterans’ gravesites. The thefts have escalated at the cemetery and park site over the last few years, despite round-the-clock security, and staffers believe the vases are being stolen and melted down for money.
Cliff Snow, manager of the A-1 Alloys recycling center in National City, said these latest stolen memorial plaques could’ve been recycled for cash, but said tracing this activity is difficult.
“Most likely, they’ll take it south of the border, out of state even,” he explained. “We know that's happening – there’s a dark underbelly to every business – but we try and follow the laws as strictly as we can.”