Three war memorial plaques stolen from a San Diego County park have been recovered in San Ysidro, police say.
The more than 60-year-old plaques were taken from National City’s Kimball Park Stadium Monday.
"Our city is so centered on the military here, I mean, this was just kind of like this ultimate slap in the face that someone did," said National City Mayor Ron Morrison.
But Saturday evening around 7:15 p.m., TSA worker Elvino Bascon said he walked outside his home in the 200 block of Willow Road in San Ysidro and discovered the plaques leaning up against a fence in the apartment complex’s parking lot.
Bascon told police he researched the plaques online and found out they had been stolen. He called National City Police officers, who picked them up.
One of the three plaques seemed to be damaged, NCPD officials said.
"For somebody to do something like that, just for probably a few dollars, it’s kind of unthinkable, sad," said Sgt. Derek Avdelotte with the NCPD.
The police won't put up the plaques at the park again until police gather all the evidence they can from them and restore them to their original condition.
No suspects have been identified.
The brass plaques honor U.S. military service members who died during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.
Two of them measure 3 feet by 4 feet, and the third plaque is 4 feet by 5 feet.
Morrison credits the community for the recovery of the sentimental plaques.
“A lot of gratitude to all the people who – through all their caring, their outrage, tears, everything else – I think that went a huge way to getting these returned,” said Morrison.
The mayor believes whoever stole them realized the plaques would be more trouble than they're worth.
One of the plaques says, “In memoriam of the men of National City who made the supreme sacrifice for their country in World War II, 1941-1945.”
Another plaque, which lists names of late, local U.S. servicemen, says, “In honor and memory of the citizens of National City who gave their lives in the service of their country during the Korean War and the Vietnam Conflict.”
Similar thefts have been reported at Greenwood Memorial Park in San Diego, where the general manager said someone is stealing bronze vases that hold flowers atop some veterans’ gravesites.
Staff there believes the vases are being stolen and melted down for money.