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Monday, August 22nd, 2011

Man jailed for stealing military medallions

By Amy Kronenberger

Military medallions next to grave markers are targeted by thieves.. . .

CELINA - A Celina man was sentenced to 25 days in jail and restitution after stealing 12 military medallions and 13 rods from grave markers in St. Marys Catholic Cemetery in Celina.
Kevin R. Owens, 46, 519 Cron St., Celina, pleaded no contest to the theft on Aug. 9. Judge James Scheer of Celina Municipal Court said he sentenced him to one day in jail for every item he stole.
"As a veteran, I was especially offended that veteran memorial medallions were removed from the cemetery," he wrote in the report.
Owens was charged on Feb. 17 when he tried to sell 12 medallions and 13 rods, made of bronze and brass, to Ohio Recycling in Chickasaw. His court date was delayed until August so he could complete a sentence he had to serve in Allen County.
Celina officer Jim Stelzer, who handled the case, said the department is still trying to figure out the full restitution, but it will be about $600.
Tom Risch of Mercer County Veterans' Services Office said the medallions are actually flag holders. The medallion is bronze cast and the rod that sticks into the ground is brass.
"These low-lifes are going out and stealing them off of veterans' graves; how low can you get?" he said. "We rely on the faith that people will show respect for a cemetery and for veterans, but I guess when you're a thief, respect doesn't really come into play."
Risch said state law requires his office to place the flag holders on the graves of every veteran. The medallion will list the veteran's branch of service, number of years served and the war in which he or she served. If the veteran did not serve during war time, the medallion will say peace time service.
The cost per flag holder to the veterans' office is $23.50 plus shipping and surcharges, Risch said.
Most of the scrap metal value comes from the brass rod, Risch said. In some cases, thieves have unscrewed the rod and left behind the medallion.
Cemetery caretakers in the area will tell Risch when flag holders go missing. He said in the last several months, he has been told of two incidences.
"I've heard of a couple reports being made to the police from Celina and Mendon cemeteries, but I haven't heard of any arrests," he said. "I'm glad they got him."
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