Anger after thieves target war memorial

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‘Mindless’ thieves who tried to steal a bronze plaque commemorating fallen soldiers of the Second World Warfrom Milford are being sought by police.

The sickening attempt to take the tribute to seven of the village’s heroes of the 1939-45 conflict comes as Belper marked the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World World earlier this month.

On Wednesday, August 13, the plaque was found lying at the side of the memorial, having been removed. Police think the culprits must have been disturbed before they were able to escape with their haul.

Leader of Belper Town Council John Nelson said: “I don’t know where their brains are if they can desecrate a war memorial in this way.

“It’s absolute mindless stupidity. If anyone knows anything about this I would urge them to get in touch with the police.

“I would pay for the court case to see these people brought to justice myself.”

All of the plaques on the memorial have now been removed.

They will be re-attached to the memorial at a later date with improved security features.

The monument is on the main A6 Derby Road leading from Belper to Milford and commemorates fallen soldiers from the First and Second World Wars.

The War Memorials Trust estimates nationally one monument is vandalised per week for its bronze, copper or other metal, despite them having “relatively little value”.

The charity launched a campaign to protect all memorials in the run-up to the 100th anniversary of World War One.

Internet auction site eBay agreed to remove such items from sale when they first appeared on the site seven years ago.

Across Britain, 13 million tons of scrap metal are recycled each year, with at least 15,000 tons — estimated to be worth £800 million — believed to have been stolen.

The whole business is said to be worth around £5.6 billion a year.