YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — A $36,000 brass soldier that stood guard at the front of a northeast Ohio veterans cemetery for decades was cut off at the ankles, stolen and sold as scrap in bits, leaving the memorial park's caretakers outraged at what they perceive as disrespect toward those buried there.
A hand, a rifle and five other pieces of the 4-foot statue were turned over to police by a recycling center this week and then returned to officials at Mahoning Valley Memorial Park, The Vindicator in Youngstown reported. Parts of the statue were scrapped for only about $25, the newspaper said.
“What I got back was a bucket full of tiny pieces,” said Gary Pollock, who helps oversee the park. He was called by police on Thursday about the pieces of the dismantled bronze statue recovered at the scrapyard, which had a receipt for the metal.
Pollock said he was shocked that someone would steal and dismantle a veterans memorial.
“That statue has been there for at least the last 40 years,” he said. “To replace it will cost thousands of dollars. The cost factor aside, who would be that disrespectful?”
Police have a suspect but didn't immediately make an arrest in the case, the newspaper reported.
The park's caretakers and relatives of the military veterans buried there are hoping police track down whoever is responsible for the theft. A bronze memorial marker also is missing, apparently after being dug up.
It's not clear when the metal was stolen. A veteran's widow first noticed the vandalism when she arrived to plant flowers at her husband's grave and realized that marker was missing, the newspaper said.
Pollock wasn't sure how the situation might be remedied.
“You can't ask for reimbursement (from the culprit) because if you are stealing statues for their scrap value, I don't see you coming up with $10,000 to $15,000 in cash” for a replacement, he said.