HARTFORD — State Rep. Len Greene Jr. testified before the Select Committee on Veterans Affairs Feb. 28 to support increasing the penalties for the damage or theft of war and veterans’ memorials.
S.B.–198 “An Act Concerning Desecration of War or Veterans’ Memorials” aims to double the existing fine up to $10,000 for the theft or damage of memorials over $1,000, and up to $4,000 for theft or damage under $1,000. The bill would also require full restitution for the cost of repairs or replacement of the damaged war or veterans’ memorials or monuments.
In 2011, over the course of a few weeks the towns of Ansonia, Derby and Shelton were victimized by thieves who stole war memorial monuments.
“The nature of this crime has truly struck home with our residents in the Valley, particularly those who served with their friends and their families,” said Greene in a prepared release. “The lack of sensitivity and respect to our veterans is abundantly clear in this case, but what is often not considered is the impact such a crime can have on the local community as a whole.”
Criminal penalties for vandalism or theft are currently tied to the monetary value of the monument. Greene expressed in front of the committee that he would like to see an increase in those penalties across the board no matter the cost of the monument.
“Each year we hold events meant to honor our veterans, and often times these monuments serve as tangible reminders of their sacrifice. Therefore, in my opinion, any crime against the community as a whole should be subject to stricter penalties because of it. In doing so, we as a state are acknowledging that veterans memorials are in fact worth more to our communities then the simple material value of the monument,” Greene said in the release.