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Plaques listing war dead stolen

Santa Ana High officials have no other record of the names.

October 16, 2008|Christian Berthelsen | Times Staff Writer

Six bronze plaques, including four honoring Santa Ana High School's war dead, have been pried off a campus wall and stolen, possibly to be sold for scrap, the school's principal said Wednesday.

The plaques honored students who died in World War I, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. School officials do not have a separate list of the students' names and are concerned that, unless the plaques are returned, they may be unable to reconstruct the memorials. The two other plaques commemorated a re-dedication of the school building and the school's centennial anniversary.

"These are priceless and historical," Principal Julie Infante said in an interview Wednesday. "They hold a lot of rich tradition to the community, and the city itself. They are irreplaceable. That's what's so upsetting about this."

In recent years, copper wiring, piping and other metals with high scrap value have been stripped from schools, sports fields and other public facilities by scavengers who then resell it for cash.

The plaques ranged in size from 2 by 3 feet up to 4 by 6 feet, and weighed between 15 and 50 pounds.

The theft apparently occurred between Tuesday evening, after rehearsals and parent meetings wrapped up and custodians closed the campus, and early Wednesday, when teachers arrived to start the school day. The plaques were mounted in an external foyer to the gymnasium; to get to them, the thieves got through a gate with three padlocks, using bolt cutters to sever two of them and breaking the third.

The Santa Ana Unified School District Police Department is investigating the theft.

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christian.berthelsen@latimes.com

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