I had thought I had heard every low theft that metal thieves had do. The bicycles, baby carriages, air conditioners, copper piping from homes were just a few. But this one is the lowest of the low. Only the worse scum of the Earth does this. There are no words to describe these thieves.
ABINGTON —Placing these whoresons in prison would be too good. For these scum we should bring back an old American punishment: Hot tar and feathers.
Elaine Harte sensed something was out of place while visiting her late husband’s grave in the shaded veterans lot at Mount Vernon Cemetery.
Gone from a nearby veteran’s grave was its weathered, bronze memorial medallion, mounted on a rod of copper or bronze. Harte then noticed other graves with their medallions gone or lying on the ground, missing their stake mounts.
Suspecting theft or vandalism, Harte called the town’s director of veterans services, Joseph D. Colantoni.
“I think it is terrible to do this to those graves. These men fought for our country,” Harte said. She discovered the thefts on Thursday.
In the latest example of metal theft in the region, a thief or thieves stole 18 copper or bronze medallion stakes from the cemetery, said Superintendent John Burnett.
And that is just a preliminary count. Burnett said he has yet to do a complete inventory of the grave sites of hundreds of veterans buried throughout the 27-acre cemetery.
“They took the rods, not the medallions,” Burnett said. “It’s all about the money. I know it for a fact.”
The thief or thieves did not take medallions made of plastic or their aluminum stakes. They have much less cash value, Burnett said.
The inscribed bronze medallions also were left behind. Burnett said any honest scrap metal buyer would know they were taken from a cemetery.
Metal theft has become a hot crime trend around the region – and the country – over the past few years, since the price for scrap metal shot up. The items have ranged from hacked-away pieces of railroad track to ripped-out copper down-spouts at a church and stolen manhole covers from local streets.
Copper theft in particular started rising significantly in 2007, as commodity-market prices jumped and local scrap yards began paying more than $2.50 per pound.
On Monday, Tony Pusateri, an Abington resident and owner of Spiegel Scrap Metal in Brockton, said the going rate for copper now is about $3 a pound. For bronze, it’s about $2.25 a pound.
“I am totally livid,” William Vegnani, chairman of the Veterans Memorial Trustees Committee, said about the grave thefts in Abington. “I have been taking care of this place for 20 years, and I never took a dime for it. Never mind that these veterans were my friends.”
Colantoni said he reported the theft to Abington police, and Chief David G. Majenski assigned an officer to investigate.
“We are getting the full cooperation of the Abington Police Department,” said Colantoni. “This is the first time this has happened.”
Burnett said the theft comes at a time of economic hardship when people should be pulling together.
“This is going to continue. It is happening all over the country,” he said.
Pusateri, who owns the scrap metal shop, was a victim of such a theft himself. About two months ago, someone robbed the company of $2,000 worth of copper wiring. Police later arrested the thief in Braintree trying to sell the copper, Pusateri said.
Vegnani said the town’s cemetery account has $600 to replace the medallion stakes with aluminum ones to help deter future thefts. “I know unemployment is high, but I do not understand why they would desecrate a cemetery like that,” said Rockland veterans agent Anton Materna. “It is the lowest of the low.”
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