Most of the metal plaques honouring war veterans that were stolen from Edmonton’s Griesbach community have been located but are destroyed, police said Wednesday.
A local scrap metal dealer contacted police after recognizing the plaques through local media coverage.
“We have recovered the majority of the stolen plaques, which are unfortunately unsalvageable due to extensive damage,” Det. Eric Wilde said.
The vice-president of the shop told Global News the plaques were found late Tuesday afternoon by one of the employees who felt something was wrong.
“We don’t accept stolen goods,” she said, adding they contacted police immediately.
“They were not in good condition… They’ll need some work,” she said.
Police have not made any arrests in relation to this investigation.
“We encourage any residents who may have witnessed suspicious activity in the Griesbach community over the last several days to contact police,” Wilde said.
News of the crime left local veteran Kris Barker shaking his head.
“Whoever did it obviously doesn’t have a lot of respect for what our military does for our country.”
He said he would like to see the plaques replaced as soon as possible.
“They’re put there to commemorate a person or an action of a group of people that endured, at some point, a lot of hardship for our country and our way of life.”
Griesbach Community League board member Bryan Evans said news the plaques were recovered was bittersweet.
“We were ecstatic to hear the plaques were found so quickly, but heartbroken to learn they were destroyed beyond recognition. It’s a tragic loss of heritage for our community.”
Evans hopes the thieves are caught.
“Having unique features such as plaques, statues and artwork in a community is what gives it character and personality. Griesbach Community League is committed to working with all stakeholders to ensure the plaques are put back in their rightful place and continue to honour our nation’s proud military legacy.”
The community league said the brazen thefts occurred over a two-day period, between Sunday and Monday.
“As a community, we are devastated,” Griesbach Community League president Brad Tilley said on Tuesday.
“Residents take great pride in our neighbourhood’s unique character and the ways it remembers those who sacrificed so much for our country. It is an absolutely senseless and disrespectful crime.”
The large metal plaques sat at the end of the streets in Griesbach, a former military base. Each plaque told the story of a decorated Canadian soldier or battle, some of which date back to the First World War.
Anyone with information about this incident or the suspect(s) involved is asked to contact the EPS at 780-423-4567 or #377 from a mobile phone. Anonymous information can also be submitted to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
— With files from Caley Ramsay