VASSALBORO — Nearly 100 veteran emblems have been stolen from three Vassalboro cemeteries.

Tom Richards, commander of the Ronco-Goodale American Legion Post 126 in Vassalboro, said the thefts were first noticed Nov. 22.

Three of Vassalboro’s 26 cemeteries are affected — East Vassalboro Methodist Cemetery on Bog Road, Nichols Cemetery on Oak Grove Road and Union Cemetery on Holman Day Road, he said.

The emblems, which are made of bronze or plastic, are typically affixed to aluminum rods and staked in the ground to mark veterans’ graves. The American Legion adds flags to the markers each Memorial Day.

Anybody who has served in the armed forces is eligible for a marker, Richards said.

“When we hear a veteran has passed away, we go and put a flag and marker on for 30 days,” he said. “Then, every year before Memorial Day, we put the flags back on for a week or so.”

Six similar markers have been stolen from firefighters’ graves at the same cemeteries, he said.

Vassalboro’s police officer, Richard Phippen, said there are no leads in the case, but the crime is not unique. Bronze markers have been stolen elsewhere in the state and sold for scrap metal.

Phippen said he has notified the Kennebec County sheriff’s office and Maine State Police.

“We’ll keep our ears open and see what happens,” he said.

Richards said he’s not optimistic.

“We don’t have any hopes of ever finding them,” he said.

Replacing the markers will cost the American Legion about $800, Richards said.

“We’re a little short on funds, but we have to do something between now and Memorial Day,” he said.

Richards said the theft is difficult to understand.

“It’s just unbelievable,” he said. “It’s just hard to believe that someone would steal something from a cemetery.”

Ben McCanna — 861-9239

[email protected]

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