In 2001, then-Gov. Tom Ridge signed into law a bill making the trafficking of stolen veterans' grave markers illegal. The second-degree misdemeanor carries maximum penalties of two years in jail, and a $5,000 fine.
New markers can be purchased online from a variety of sources, including private foundries.
Warren County Veterans' Affairs Director Ed Burris said the county is required by the county code to provide veterans' markers for all veterans. The county currently purchases aluminum markers from private foundries.
Times Observer photo by Rob Andersen
There is a display of various veterans’ memorial markers in Ed Burris’ office in the courthouse, depicting various wars and marker styles. The four bronze markers in front, showing a folded American flag and each branch of the service, save the Coast Guard, are available free from the Veteran’s Administration under certain conditions. The VA will also provide, with documentation, marble headstones or bronze plaques for veterans. There are stipulations for these, also.
They are normally placed either by the caretakers or by veterans organizations' honor guards during funeral services.
Dennis Sturdevant, who is on the board of directors for Sheffield Cemetery, said that after a count was accomplished on Monday, it was determined that 95 to 100 bronze markers were missing. He added that in 2007, 88 bronze markers were stolen and the thief was caught.
Burris said, "We will give them new markers as soon as they compile lists of when they (the veterans) served," as there are different markers for different conflicts. He said the new markers will be aluminum.
Federal law establishes more penalties for the transportation of stolen veterans' memorials, markers as well as other items.
18 U.S. Code 2314 states, "Whoever transports, transmits, or transfers in interstate or foreign commerce any goods, wares, merchandise, securities or money, of the value of $5,000 or more, knowing the same to have been stolen, converted or taken by fraud... shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both a grave marker, headstone, monument, or other object, intended to permanently honor a veteran or mark a veteran's grave, or any monument that signifies an event of national military historical significance."
Further, it states, "If the offense involves the transportation, transmission, or transfer in interstate or foreign commerce of veterans' memorial objects with a value, in the aggregate, of less than $1,000, the defendant shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both."