A public way to honour loved ones has been stolen from along Edmonton’s river valley.
A total of 123 memorial plaques have been taken from benches on Victoria promenade, between 116 and 120 streets, and in the river valley, according to Edmonton police on Tuesday.
That’s up from 51 plaques reported stolen as of this past weekend.
“These are crimes of opportunity, I really don’t think the individuals who are doing it are understanding or caring about the impact they’re having on the community, on these families,’ City of Edmonton Park and Roads Manager Brian Simpson said.
The city said the plaques were made out of bronze and were stolen on Jan. 21 and 22. The city is in the process of contacting loved ones to notify them of the thefts.
The plaques will be replaced, the city said. The overall estimated cost to replace all the plaques is between $10,000 and $14,000.
Cards to family members have been left at various benches, as several nearby residents said they could not believe what happened.
“I was shocked when I saw the missing memorial plates, these are markers for loved ones who have left us,” said Douglas Cowan, an area resident who often walks at the Victoria promenade.
“It’s really sad that people are taking advantage of that and trying to make a few bucks,” area resident Dom Letica said.
With the word spreading within the community, longtime area resident and owner of a plaque Bernice Dawe went to see if her plaque was still there; a plaque her family put up to remember a special member of their family.
“I’m very happy but I feel bad for the other people.”
The city said there is no specific timeline of when the plaques will be replaced due to the high volume that were stolen.
A police investigation is now underway.
Acme Iron and Scrap Metals keeps track of reported thefts and is watching out for these stolen plaques.
The company works with police on a regular basis to help identify when a product being sold may have been illegally obtained.
“We have cameras all over the yard, so we’re able to get a vehicle description. That’s recorded and kept for a long time. We take licence plates. When they come in, a full front view of their face is required. We don’t allow hoods, sunglasses, no facial coverings,” said safety coordinator Jennifer Burr.
The door to Acme’s office is locked and customers need to be buzzed in. Recently, the company also started asking sellers for government-issued identification with an address – such as a valid driver’s licence.
In November, the UCP proclaimed an act that had been on the books since 2012. It would require scrap yards and recyclers to take and note the identification of people selling certain metals, including copper — and potentially, catalytic converters. But the regulations aren’t yet in place.
The province said it needs to consult with stakeholders first to iron out the details. The Alberta government is hopeful legal requirements will be in place in the spring of 2020.