Three people have been arrested for suspected vandalism in the case of Georgia’s Walk of Heroes Veterans Memorial. According to The Telegraph, the Rockdale County Walk of Heroes Veterans Memorial was desecrated on December 15, 2017 by four suspects. While three of the accused have been taken into custody, the fourth suspect still on the run.
The public information officer of Rockdale County Sheriff’s Office, Yolande Lovingood-Moore, said that two metal soldiers were torn from the memorial before being submerged in the water of Randy Poynter lake. Also left in the water was half the memorial’s 800-pound globe.
“We don’t see how they could’ve carried items off,” said Rockdale County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Tijuana Harris to Fox News.
The Sheriff’s Office and other investigators report they’re still looking into the relationship between the suspects. The motive behind the vandalism was most likely to scrap the metal and sell it.
“All of it was not bronze, which I think they quickly found out,” said Lovingood-Moore. “They were trying to dump it after they realized we were on to them.”
Wendall Heath Tolbert, 51, was arrested on December 29, 2017, after the Sheriff’s Office was given a tip. The second suspect, Keshia Martin Black, 43, was arrested on January 3, 2018. And Bryan Sears, 26, was arrested on January 8 with assistance from Union City police.
A warrant is currently out for the arrest of the fourth suspect in the memorial theft. According to Lovingood-Moore, the suspects may have been connected by drug use.
Tolbert and Black are from different parts of Georgia whereas Sears hails from Texas. The differences in age and location make the relationship between the accused questionable at least.
“This was a terrible crime,” said Sheriff Eric J. Levett. “This was disrespectful to many men and women who sacrifice their lives each day.”
If the memorial’s thieves had managed to scrap the metal they would have made a total of $3,000. However, according to the Walk of Heroes website, the memorial will take over $200,000 to repair.
Unfortunately, metal theft has become an increasing problem. In the UK, thieves have been making off with railway cables and even entire church roofs. The reason behind the theft, just like in the Georgia memorial theft, is scrapping.
The metalworking fluid market itself is projected to reach $9.74 billion in value by 2020, meaning the value of the metalworking market may be even higher. Criminals try to capitalize on this value by stealing metal, melting it down, and selling it.
Chairperson of the Rockdale county board of commissioners, Oz Nesbitt, says the board will be taking preventative measures to keep vandals from desecrating the park again. Measures may include hiring security guards or setting up security cameras, which can be purchased through several companies with resolutions between 720 and 1080.
Currently, law enforcement has searched Meriwether County, Coweta County, and Union City for the fourth suspect in the vandalism case. “We’re coming after you,” said Sheriff Levett in a news release, “and we will find you.”