More than 40 military flag holders were stolen from the graves of veterans buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Beaver Dam over the weekend
Cemetery manager Russ Kottke said he was notified of the thefts Sunday morning by a visiting family member who noticed the holders missing from graves at the cemetery.
“I got a call from a lady saying her husband’s marker was gone,” Kottke said.
Kottke said the timing of the call makes him believe the holders were taken between Saturday night and Sunday morning.
“It’s disgusting,” Kottke said. “They robbed the veterans who were honored with the bronze markers.”
The flags that had been put in the holders by service organizations to celebrate the July 4th holiday were not taken, and were stuck in the ground nearby.
The flag holders were taken from the east side of the older section of the cemetery, Kottke said.
“Driving by you can’t even see that they are missing,” Kottke said. “Even if you were driving through the center or west side, you wouldn’t be able to see they were missing.”
Dodge County Sheriff Pat Ninmann said the holders are from the graves of World War I, World War II and Korean War veterans.
“We have no witnesses right now, so we are hoping someone comes forward,” Ninmann said.
Dodge County veterans service officer Mark Grams said the crime of stealing the markers is not unusual.
“Hustisford had the same thing happen to them last year when 100 of them were stolen,” Grams said.
In that case the Dodge County Sheriff’s Department found the plaques and returned them. The brass rods were not found.
“Replacing the plaques is a possible problem since a lot of the older plaques are war specific,” Gram said. “We’d have to figure out which grave stone each one was taken from in the first place.”
The cost for a bronze plaque and brass rod is more than $30. Grams said a brass rod is $4. A new aluminum plaque and rod is $5.
The thefts have resulted in changes to the plaques. The bronze plaques have brass rods and had which service the veteran served in on the plaque. They were changed to aluminum a few years ago with “U.S. Veteran” embossed on the memorial plaque.
“They steal those too,” Gram said.
They are now planning on using plastic flag holders.
“We still have enough of a supply of the aluminum ones for a couple of years,” Gram said.
The village of Hustisford held a fundraiser to buy new bronze markers, Grams said. Even without a fundraiser, Grams said they would replace the stolen markers, but would be doing so with the aluminum flag holders.
Those with information about the thefts are asked to contact the Dodge County Sheriff’s Office at 386-3726. Kottke said if someone wants to bring them back, he’d love to get them back.
“I’d love to see a pile of them in the cemetery,” Kottke said. “You could even bring them to the office.”
“It’s disgusting. They robbed the veterans who were honored with the bronze markers.”