LA PORTE, Ind. (WLS) --Hundreds of medallions have been ripped from the graves of Indiana veterans and the stakes holding them in place then apparently sold as scrap metal. Now a fundraising effort is underway to replace the medallions.
Thusfar, about $2,000 has been raised but thousands more is still needed. The man leading the fundraising effort has a message for the thieves: "Shame on you."
"Some of these guys gave the full measure of their lives and this is all we've got to give our thanks for their service," said James Hiles, financial officer for American Legion Post 83.
The medallions, some dating back to the Revolutionary War, began disappearing from the Patton Cemetery in La Porte, Ind., in 2015. Now the number has jumped from 50 to more than 300. The thieves apparently aren't trying to sell the medallions, but the stakes that hold them in place are valuable to scrappers.
"For the few cents you get out of this brass rod, when you throw this medallion away, you're not hurting me as an individual but you're hurting veterans' families," Hiles said.
Hiles is leading the fundraising effort to replace the medallions with something less valuable, hoping that will stop the thieves. Police think the thefts may be linked to similar ones earlier in 2016, from tombstones at a cemetery in Demotte, Ind.
Hiles said on top of the money already raised, another $3,000 is needed to replace the medallions.