Los Angeles/ Crime & Emergencies
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Published on February 28, 2024
Los Angeles Cemeteries Plundered as Historic Plaques Stolen, $40K Rewards for Leads on SuspectsSource: Google Street View

Los Angeles is on the hunt for heartless thieves who targeted historic cemeteries, carting off bronze plaques and memorial markers worth millions. In a city where the past whispers through the monuments of the dead, the brazen acts at Woodlawn Celestial Gardens and Lincoln Memorial Park have authorities scrambling and a community reeling.

The spate of vandalism began on Jan. 6, at the Woodlawn Celestial Gardens in Compton. Vandals desecrated nearly two dozen headstones, some of them "irreplaceable," Aisha Woods told KTLA in January. Rooted in the 1880s, this cemetery's rich history, cradling the remains of prominent figures and veterans, seems to have mattered little to the perpetrators. The damages and losses, as per County Supervisor Holly Mitchell, could spiral into hundreds of thousands.

Not even a week passed before tragedy struck again. Lincoln Memorial Park Cemetery in Carson fell victim, losing around 100 plaques from their mausoleum and suffering damage to a historic bronze statue of Abraham Lincoln. Former World Heavyweight Boxing Champion Joe Louis had dedicated a large plaque at this site to local veterans, only to be ripped from its rightful place, ABC7 reports. Mitchell indicated a staggering estimated damage exceeding $2 million.

Authorities had a break on Feb. 14, when during a routine traffic stop, Los Angeles Port Police arrested three individuals with a collection of stolen bronze cemetery markers. As if mocking the communities, the captured goods had also been ripped from the Port's own memorials, amounting to an "affront to our entire community," Councilmember Tim McOsker lambasted, as recorded by a news release from the Port of Los Angeles.

In response to the disheartening saga, two $20,000 rewards have been announced, one for information on each cemetery's incident, in the hopes that the public might assist in apprehending those responsible. Supervisor Mitchell recommended these rewards, urging anyone with knowledge of these crimes to step forward, as details emerge, according to KTLA.

While three arrests have been made, the search is far from over. The culprits who struck at the heart of these hallowed grounds remain obscenely at large. Tips can be submitted anonymously by calling Crime Stoppers or visiting their website, or by directly contacting the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's Compton or Carson Stations. The gaping wounds in these storied cemeteries will not soon heal, but justice, however belated, may yet provide a measure of solace.