Park Plaques Ripped Off

RENO, NV - It's a place where animals and people go to gather.

But recently Rancho San Rafael Park has also been the site of theft.

The plaque honoring the victims of the 1985 Galaxy crash in Reno, where 70 died and one survived, is gone.

A tree grove made possible by retirees of Nevada Bell also had a plaque; it too is gone.

Rangers say thieves have made off with two additional plaques since November for a total of 4.

“It is a concern to me because that is the area we give out our donations to some of the charities here in the community,” says William Puchert, president of the local Sons and Daughters of Erin.

Their grove and plaque sits adjacent to the two theft scenes; Puchert says his organization is on pins and needles wondering if it is next

Fortunately its monuments have gone unscathed, at least for now.

“No, it's not surprising. It is a somewhat remote area that has an item of some value. How much value... it fluctuates from day to day based on metal recycling values and whatnot,” says Sergeant Ralph Caldwell with Washoe County Sheriff's Office Detective Division.

Caldwell says in his experience with metal theft: the culprit is usually a meth user looking for a quick buck.

Selling the metal isn't as easy as you might think, as recyclers here tend to follow Nevada Statute requiring law enforcement oversight.

But there are always those who work in the shadows.

Caldwell says they don't care where the metal comes from...or to whom it might have lain in tribute.

Washoe County detectives say at this time they have no leads in this case.

Secret Witness is offering a reward; you can remain anonymous by calling 322-4900.