Bronze plaques stolen from schools

Thieves have stolen seven bronze plaques, some worth thousands of dollars, from two La Cañada Unified schools during the last three weeks, according to Los Angeles County sheriffs.

Four plaques were stolen from La Cañada High School during the weekend of July 9 to 12, said Det. Brian Tibbett, including one dedicated to former history teacher and football coach Bud Heavner and another dedicated to former softball coach Tom Parker. The total loss was valued at $5,400.

"All the bolts that were attaching these plaques were broken, and the plaques were pried from secure locations," Tibbett said.

Sometime between July 13 and July 16, another bronze plaque, bolted to the wall of a classroom building at La Cañada Elementary School, was stolen. And during the weekend of July 16 to 19, two additional plaques were stolen from the elementary school. One, a 3-by-5-foot donor plaque, was valued at $4,000, Tibbett said.

The thieves gained access to La Cañada Elementary by cutting a hole in the chain-link fence on the southern end of the school, which runs along Memorial Park, Tibbett said. They also cut a padlock and entered the school's disaster storage container, although nothing was stolen.

Tibbett estimated that bronze is worth between $3 and $5 per pound on the scrap-metal market.

"Anything recyclable they are going to steal," Tibbett said. "It is not a good thing, especially when you are stealing things that mean something to people. These are memorial plaques and dedication plaques, and they mean a lot more than just the cost of making them."

Mike Leininger, assistant superintendent for facilities and operations, said the district is considering installing security cameras to discourage theft.

"The remaining plaques are bolted into the sides of buildings [and] large boulders," Leininger said. "They would be damaged if we took them from their locations. Moving them is really not an option."

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