(LibertySociety.com) – Thieves in California have found a new way to make money off of dead people by stealing nameplates from grave sites. The thefts occurred in the early morning hours of January 12 at Lincoln Memorial Park in the city of Carson. Over 100 irreplaceable bronze nameplates were stolen after the thieves pried them from the mausoleum graves, many dating back to the 1800s. A World War II commemorative plaque donated in 1944 by professional boxer Joe Louis was also taken. A resident of Carson and community advocate named Aisha Woods was shocked when she arrived at the cemetery the following morning.
Woods said that the thieves also tried to steal a bust of President Abraham Lincoln, which has been in the cemetery since 1934. She noted that an unidentified liquid was sprayed on the nameplates to determine if they were bronze, then the thieves sawed and melted the bronze nameplates enough to remove them from the plaques. Copper was also stolen from the water supply system. Many WWII veterans were buried in the cemetery, including African Americans. The cemetery was one of the first in California to integrate.
Woods was especially upset about the WWII plaque, which was donated to honor black veterans. She said that the black soldiers “were disrespected everywhere else but still fought to make this world, especially the U.S., a better place.” She also believes that it could not have been just one person stealing the nameplates, given the extensive damage and the heavy weight of the bronze. A Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department spokesperson said that they were investigating the thefts and believed the thieves would take the nameplates to sell to recycling centers.
Compton, California Councilman Jonathan Bowers said that the city was considering passing legislation to prevent these types of crimes. Earlier this month, thieves targeted Woodlawn Celestial Gardens cemetery in Compton to steal bronze grave markers. Bowers urged recycling centers to decline to purchase the stolen nameplates. He asked that they attempt to obtain identifying information so police could arrest the thieves “and prosecute these people and hopefully end this reign of terror.”
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