Apparently Nothing Is Sacred

Sales of the headstones, memorial plaques funerary urns or markers of veterans would be prohibited without state permission, under legislation passed unanimously by the Assembly January 30.

The bill – AB 1225 by Assemblyman Paul Cook, a Yucaipa Republican – is aimed at deterring thefts of memorial plaques for scrap and the sale of grave markers on the antique market.

Assemblyman Paul Cook

“Its very, very sad that somebody that has fought for their country (has) their cemetery site is disturbed so somebody can grab a gravestone or marker and make money off of it,” Cook told his colleagues.

Cook’s bill is modeled after a recently passed law in New York where Civil War and Revolutionary War gravesites have been targets.

On July 14, 18 medallion stakes made of bronze or copper were stolen from an  Abington, Vermont cemetery. Most likely for their scrap value.

Cemeteries in Downey and Long Beach had bronze grave markers and military plaques stolen on five occasions, in March and February 2011, the Long Beach Press Telegram reports.

Four bronze grave markers and numerous military plaques were stolen from the Downey Cemetery

In Long Beach, four grave markers, four plaques — including two Civil War military plaques dedicated in 1937 — and two back-flow valves were stolen from Sunnyside Cemetery.

Vandalized Civil War Monument in Long Beach

Twelve plaques were stolen by thieves in November at a Poulsbo Wahington cemetery. Unlike most of such thieves these were caught. The report from the Sky Valley Chronicle.

America is not alone. The United Kingdom has seen a rash of thefts as the Daily Mail reported in November. 

Under Cook’s bill, any person who wants to “sell, trade or transfer veteran’s commemorative property” must petition the state’s Cemetery and Funeral Bureau.

“Veteran’s commemorative property” is defined as a “monument, headstone, marker, memorial, plaque, statue, vase, urn, flagholder, badge or shield that is over 50 years old.”

Cook was forced to limit the measure to 50 years or older to reduce enforcement costs because of the state’s budget woes.

A violation of the bill is a misdemeanor carrying a fine of not less than $100 and no more than $1,000 with a minimum of 10 days in jail and a maximum of  six months. 

It’s already illegal to steal a grave marker and to steal a plaque for scrap.

Cook’s measure must be passed by the Senate and win approval by Gov. Jerry Brown before becoming law.




  1. Why in the hell aren’t we going after the BUYERS of this “scrap” — and legislating stiff fines and other penalties that will cripple anyone convicted of buying? If there is no market . . .!

    And with regard to enforcement and the state’s “budget woes,” the same can be said for virtually any and every state department – the time is here to immediately craft a leaner and meaner solution — and GET RID OF THE WASTE. We keep hearing that waste is not really that much of a problem and I say BULL – it IS a huge part of the problem and one that apparently is so vastly sensitive no one wants to address it. Someone better figure this out! When the Executive Director of a major state Agency reports to its Board that he has good news and other good news — 1)they are under budget for the year, and 2) they need to figure out where to spend the rest quickly so the budget doesn’t get cut for the next fiscal year – well, there is a problem.

    Comment by Sambolina — 1.31.2012 @ 12:44 pm

  2. It’s a shame that legislation is necessary for something which should instead be dictated by conscience. Of course, that would apply to thousands of scenarios that we currently have laws for. Shameful, indeed.

    Comment by California Blogger — 2.22.2012 @ 6:40 pm

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