BEAVER DAM, Wis. - In the quiet Oakwood Cemetery you will find the resting place for men and women who served this country at the crossroads of history. An American flag and a bronze holder tells everyone passing by that they are veterans.
Sometime during the Fourth of July weekend someone went through the cemetery and stole between 40 and 50 of the bronze flag holders and the brass stakes they rest on.
"We were celebrating Independence Day. It was Independence weekend and we were celebrating our freedom, honoring those who actually fought for our freedom and these individuals chose to take that opportunity to go and steal, and it is so disrespectful to these fallen soldiers," Dodge County Sheriff Patricia Ninmann said.
Investigators believe the flag holders were taken for the value the bronze and brass have as metals. Bronze is currently selling for $1.52 a pound and the 50 flag holders could possibly be sold for $200. The cost to replace the flag holders for the veterans however is closer to $2,700.
Beyond the monetary value, the bronze flag holders are a source of pride and honor for the veteran community and families.
"This is just one of those things that we can provide for the families in recognition of the service, so it means a lot to the family to have them," said Mark Grams, veterans service officer for Dodge County.
This theft from the Oakwood Cemetery is not the first time veteran flag holders have been stolen in Dodge County. One year ago, almost to the day, approximately 50 veteran flag holders were stolen from a cemetery in Hustisford.
"Well grave robbers, you don't get much below a grave robber. That is essentially what they are doing," Grams said.
Russell Kottke is a manager at the Oakwood Cemetery and discovered on Sunday morning that many of the flag holders had been taken. He said while the flag holders were taken, the American flags were removed by the individual and placed in the ground at each grave.
"At first it was kind of a little unnoticed because the flags were still there but then you looked further and the holder wasn't there," Kottke said.
Kottke is hoping whoever took the bronze flag holders will return them so they can be put back on the veterans' graves.
"You robbed a veteran and you disgraced a veteran because he is here and he fought for his country and that was a way to honor him and now you took something away," Kottke said.
The Dodge County Sheriff's Office is hoping anyone with information about the thefts will contact their office at 920-386-3726 or visit their website. The website has a link to anonymously submit tips for cases like this one.
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