Vandals steal plaques from Tahoma National Cemetery; $5,000 reward offered

The Tahoma National Cemetery director cannot comprehend why someone stole 11 bronze memorial plaques Nov. 27 from a cemetery walkway.

The Tahoma National Cemetery director cannot comprehend why someone stole 11 bronze memorial plaques Nov. 27 from a cemetery walkway.

“It’s a national shrine,” said director Jim Trimbo in a Thursday phone interview. “It’s no different than damaging the Washington Monument or the Lincoln Memorial. They stole a piece of local community history.”

A vandal or vandals pried the plaques from granite boulders that line a memorial walkway in the cemetery at 18600 Southeast 240th Street in unincorporated King County, east of Kent and Covington.

The Tahoma National Cemetery Support Group announced Thursday that it is offering a $5,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of those who stole the plaques, Trimbo said.

Anyone with information about the case can call the cemetery at 425-413-9614 or the King County Sheriff’s Office detective division at 206-296-3883.

The plaques were donated in the 1990s by various veteran groups to honor highly decorated units.

“It cost about $2,000 a piece to make them,” Trimbo said. “If someone tries to sell them, I can’t imagine they get much for the scrap metal. They probably won’t even find a buyer because of all of the words on them.”

Vandals did not damage any other areas of the cemetery.

“I want to assure people that none of the grave sites were damaged,” Trimbo said.

Trimbo estimates it’s going to cost about $25,000 to $30,000 to replace the plaques.

“I want them put back,” Trimbo said.

People have called Trimbo to offer donations to help replace the plaques. But Trimbo said he is going to check with the federal government to see whether it might pay for the replacement so veteran’s groups do not have to come up with the money again.

Trimbo, however, is taking names of anyone who wants to make a donation if the government money doesn’t come through. Trimbo can be reached during weekdays at the cemetery at 425-413-9614.

Trimbo said he has never seen a similar incident at the cemetery. The vandals also damaged three other plaques among the two dozen or so displays along the walkway.

“It shocks me,” he said. “This community is so supportive of the cemetery. They watch over this place. It shocks me that anybody would be stupid enough to pry these off of granite boulders. They have no respect for the veterans and no remorse.”

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