PRINCE GEORGE, BC: The City of Prince George is reminding would-be thieves that stealing the plaques off memorial park benches is not only extremely disrespectful, but also unprofitable. Metal signs can often be sold to businesses such as recyclers and scrap dealers, but the City has contacted all local authorized vendors and alerted them to the recent rash of thefts.
In the past few years, an increasing number of plaques have been pried and ripped off park benches, which are often purchased by the families and friends of departed loved ones as part of the City’s gifts and legacies program. Participants can pay a fee to “adopt a bench,” which includes a bolted on memorial plaque with a personal message of remembrance for the loved one.
In recent years, vandalism and theft of memorial plaques has escalated, particularly this year:
- 2017 – 2
- 2018 – 0
- 2019 – 0
- 2020 – 17
- 2021 – 8
- 2022 – 20 to date
“We have certainly seen an uptick in the theft of these items in recent years and the replacement costs have escalated as well. We began replacing the bronze plaques that were used formerly with less-expensive aluminum versions to help deter thieves, but so far that does not seem to matter,” said Robyn McConkey, Park Services Coordinator. “Apparently, the thieves don’t recognize the difference and they don’t know that they can’t sell the plaques locally. We know all the local dealers and they refuse to buy them and, in fact, alert us whenever someone tries to sell one.”
Aluminum plaques cost the City $450 to replace, while the bronze variety are $600. The City has also been replacing cedar benches with recycled plastic composite versions, which are less expensive and make removing plaques more difficult, but there are still many cedar benches in the inventory and costs are mounting.
“Scrap metal dealers and pawn brokers are required to register items such as memorial plaques in a database that is accessible to law enforcement officers. This includes the name and photograph of the person pawning the items. Police agencies can use this information to further their investigations into the possession of stolen property for individuals turning in these memorial plaques,” stated Cpl. Jennifer Cooper, media spokesperson for the Prince George RCMP.
Written and released by City of Prince George