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Thieves Target San Diego’s Historic Plaques


Aired 8/23/11

Thieves are going after some shiny signs lately. San Diego Police say the theft of bronze plaques is on the rise.

From the Mission Hills neighborhood to Chula Vista, more than a dozen bronze plaques have gone missing.

San Diego Police Detective Mike Brenner is investigating 14 cases of bronze plaque thefts. He says there may be as many as 20 cases countywide.

Brenner says the crime spree started this summer in the Burlingame area between North Park and South Park. Most of the cases involve historic homes.

"The thing they are probably doing is trying to recycle them. I think bronze is about two-dollars a pound, so they're not getting a lot. I think some of these signs go for five to six hundred dollars to manufacture," he said.

Property owners have been warned to stay vigilant, but Brenner says some Mission Hills residents are taking down the signs all together.

Police are working with area recyclers but so far haven't made any arrests.

None of the plaques have been recovered.

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Avatar for user 'MissionhillsAl'

MissionhillsAl | August 24, 2011 at 9:34 a.m. ― 5 years, 6 months ago

Mission Hills: I have documented at least 24 stolen plaques in Mission Hills since about July 25 - this includes six 1909 Inspiration Heights plaques; three c. 1930 "Private Way" plaques, two from Grant Elementary School; one from Pioneer Park and 12 individual historic designation plaques from homes.

The police have these figures yet continue to undercount our stolen plaques.

At least three homeowners have removed their individual designation plaques.

Other homeowners are hiding their plaques with plants or creative disguises. We are recommending that porch lights be left on at night; call police if you see anyone acting oddly.

I am happy to report that there have been no thefts for the past 6 or 7 nights. Perhaps, Mission Hills has gotten "too hot" for the criminals (anywhere from 2-4 men, driving a sedan); too many police patrolling; residents are watching during the wee wee hours; less plaques to steal now - ?

Perhaps they are moving to other historic neighborhoods - certainly, Balboa Park, Burlingame, Bankers Hill have also been hit.

We fear our historic plaques have melted down locally or in Mexico, hopefully they will be found, although doubtful.

District Two Council Member Kevin F. has promised to replace the six historic Inspiration Heights plaques.

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