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Thieves take bronze grave markers in Downey cemetery

March 31, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Downey police are looking for two thieves who lifted four bronze grave markers from the Downey cemetery. Investigators believe the thieves will recycle them for cash.

Similar crimes have been happening for weeks at a cemetery in Long Beach.

The thieves targeted the Old Downey Cemetery located at Lakewood Boulevard and Gardendale Street, which holds historic graves dating back to the late 1800s, on Wednesday at about 7:30 a.m.

Two men were seen in a black Chevrolet Silverado with a black camper shell. Officials said one suspect weighed around 300 pounds and the other one weighed 250 pounds.

In addition to the grave markers, the thieves also got away with some military plaques.

Authorities said they believe the plaques are being taken to recycling yards for the metal. Local salvage yards have been notified.

The problem first started at Sunnyside Cemetery in Long Beach in February. Thieves stole the brass Civil War memorial plaque. Authorities believe it was probably sold to a scrap metal dealer for a few dollars a pound.

"People are desperate. They want money, and they're willing to steal anything," said Linda Meador, a Sunnyside board member. "It doesn't matter that this is basically a sacred place."

Sunnyside manager Michael Miner said plumbing repairs have cost the cemetery $4,300 so far, and the final bill hasn't come yet.

"That doesn't even include the markers. The markers are priceless," Miner said.

Authorities are looking into whether the two incidents are related. Anyone with information about the Downey theft is urged to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-TIPS.