July 13, 2018 8:18 pm
Updated: July 14, 2018 8:34 pm

Memorial plaques stolen from Edmonton cemetery: ‘It’s infuriating’

WATCH ABOVE: The search continues for plaques stolen from an Edmonton cemetery. As Julia Wong explains, those in the military community are calling the theft disappointing and saddening.

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Edmonton police are asking the public for tips as they investigate the theft of seven memorial plaques from a cemetery near the northwest outskirts of the city.

Police believe the plaques were taken from the Northern Lights Cemetery sometime between Tuesday, July 3 and Friday, July 6. The thefts were reported to EPS last Saturday.

“All seven plaques were allegedly removed from the military memorial section of the cemetery and many of the plaques date back to the 1980s,” police said, adding investigators are working with cemetery staff to identify the families that have been impacted by the theft.

Police say seven memorial plaques were taken from Edmonton’s Northern Lights Cemetery sometime between Tuesday, July 3 and Friday July 6.

Wes Rosa/ Global News

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Troy Deatrich, president and service officer of the St. Albert branch of the Royal Canadian Legion, often visits the Northern Lights cemetery to pay his respects.

While he doesn’t know anyone buried there personally, Deatrich said news of the theft is sickening.

“It’s infuriating…disappointing, saddening. How can somebody do this to the memory of veterans and their families?” he said.

The plaques seem to have been taken off the back monument and stones along the walkway.

“Some part of me wants to hit them in the face. Another part of me just wants to look at them and say ‘why?'” Deatrich said.

“I would definitely want some type of justice done to the individual or individuals.

“Returning the plaques would be the best thing. It’s bad enough they’ve been stolen. We don’t know how much damage there is to them.”

Laurie Butler’s father, who served in the Korean War, is buried in the cemetery.

Butler said she heard about the stolen plaques on the news. While she visits regularly anyways, decided to check on his grave site, which was untouched by the vandals.

“Somebody thought it would be a prank or someone thought they might be able to make a little money out of the stone for whatever reason,” she said.

“I’d probably ask more — why, tell me why? I’d be more interested in how they made that decision.”

Butler admits she isn’t surprised, citing “it’s just a reflection of the way the world is going,” but said her father would be outraged.

“He’d be horrified. I think he would just be throwing up his hands and saying, ‘what’s the world coming to?'” she said.

“The person who did this wasn’t stopping to think about democracy or the meaning of these lives that are here or the individual families to whom they were hurting. They weren’t thinking about anything.”

Police say seven memorial plaques were taken from Edmonton’s Northern Lights Cemetery sometime between Tuesday, July 3 and Friday July 6.

Wes Rosa/ Global News

The City of Edmonton said it is still in the process of contacting surviving family members and doing so is its top priority.

“It is very disheartening that someone would go to the effort of removing these plaques, which are obviously of great sentimental value to the families who had them installed in the cemetery,” said Const. Conrad Whetstone with the EPS Northwest Division.

“Please contact police if you have information about the whereabouts of these plaques or the individual(s) responsible for the theft.”

The city said the plaques were purchased by families and installed by the city. The city wasn’t able to provide a monetary value for the stolen plaques.

Anyone with information about the theft is asked to call the EPS at 780-423-4567 or to contact Edmonton Crime Stoppers by phone at 1-800-222-8477 or online.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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