Proos bill to crack down on theft of veterans’ grave markers clears committee

Published 9:34 am Thursday, June 1, 2017

LANSING — Legislation sponsored by Sen. John Proos to help stop the theft of veterans’ grave markers recently cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee and is poised for passage by the Michigan Senate.

“America’s veterans and their families make enormous sacrifices to protect our nation and our freedoms, and we owe them a tremendous debt of gratitude,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “One of the many ways to try to express our deep appreciation for their dedication is to adorn their graves with special markers — so that people will forever know of their service. Disturbingly, some people have sunken so low as to disturb the final resting place of our veterans to steal these markers and sell them to collectors or scrap metal dealers.

“My legislation will crack down hard on these thefts so we can give our veterans the honor and rest they have rightfully earned.”

Senate Bill 341 would specifically make it illegal to “buy, receive or possess” a stolen veterans marker or memorial.

Violators with items valued at $20,000 or more would be guilty of a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison, a fine of $15,000 or three times the value of the items, or both. Those with items valued at $1,000 but less than $20,000, would face up to five years in prison, a fine of $10,000 or three times the value of the items, or both. Anything valued less than $1,000 would be a misdemeanor offense.

The measure would apply broadly, including antique stores and scrap dealers who would melt down the markers for the metal.

“I want to thank former Senator Jelinek for bringing this issue to my attention,” Proos said. “I look forward to working with him and my current legislative colleagues to stop these grave robbers the best way we can — by cutting off much of their ability to profit from stealing from the graves of our veterans.”