RIVERSIDE, Calif., Jan. 22 (UPI) -- Bronze plaques honoring Southern California pioneers have been disappearing from a memorial trail.
George Flower, founder of Friends of Mt. Rubidoux Inc. in Riverside, said four of 13 plaques have been stolen, three of them in the past week and a half, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reported. Investigators believe the thieves wanted to melt down the bronze, an alloy of copper and tin, to get the copper, now at a record high price.
"The plaques were bolted and epoxied into the rocks, but they ripped them out with heavy instruments," Flower said.
The plaques were replacements of earlier ones installed by Frank Miller, who owned Mount Rubidoux in the early 20th century. Miller changed his mind about developing the mountain and instead turned it into an inspirational park.
Flower and Jeff Crumbaker, owner of the company that made the replacement plaques and is now working on more replacements, have a solution to the theft problem.
"It's etched in granite instead," Crumbaker said of the memorial he is now duplicating. "We would like to see them keep the bronze, but if the plaques are going to be stolen over and over, it's not worth it."