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Thieves stole more than 100 name plaques from gravestones at a cemetery in California last week, according to officials.
The burglary and vandalism happened at Lincoln Memorial Park in the 16700 block of South Central Avenue in Carson early Friday morning, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. This incident comes after a similar theft about a week earlier at Woodlawn Celestial Gardens in the nearby city of Compton.
More than a hundred bronze nameplates were removed from mausoleum graves, as was a large plaque commemorating WWII African American veterans that had been donated in 1944 by famed boxer Joe Louis. Lincoln Memorial Park was one of the first integrated cemeteries in Los Angeles County.
“It takes a lot of force to pry this off,” community advocate Aisha Woods told City News Service. She showed one plaque that had been bent out of shape but not completely removed from the stone.
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The burglary and vandalism happened at Lincoln Memorial Park in the 16700 block of South Central Avenue in Carson. (Google Maps)
The thieves left tools next to the large bust of President Lincoln located in the veteran’s memorial.
“They’ve tried twice to take him,” Woods said.
In both thefts, it appears the people responsible are targeting bronze. Woods said she believes the thieves are pawning the items off to resellers or recycling companies.
The thieves appeared to use a type of fluid to remove the patina from the bust to determine the kind of metal it was made out of.
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A similar incident occurred about a week earlier at Woodlawn Celestial Gardens in Compton. (Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department)
Woods says that families are now stopping by to replace the missing plaques with pieces of tape on their loved ones’ graves.
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Attempts thus far to bring in the Veteran’s Administration to help with maintenance, including possibly donating a camera security system, have been unsuccessful.
“We desperately need the public’s help,” Woods said “We try to keep Lincoln Memorial open Monday through Friday, so people can visit their loved ones. But if we don’t get some help, security, or cameras, there’s going to be nothing to visit, if this continues”.