New bill brings federal penalty for theft from memorials

NEW BRITAIN, Conn. (WTNH)-- Senator Blumenthal and other Connecticut leaders are hailing the passage of a new amendment that will bring a bigger federal penalty to those who steal from a veterans' memorial.
The bill was introduced in response to thefts at memorials in several parts of the state.

On the week of Pearl Harbor's anniversary, the Senate passed an amendment, which would make tougher penalties for criminals who steal or vandalize monuments.

There used to be two plaques of names in New Britain, but neighbors say it's been several months since those bronze plaques were stolen.

Senator Richard Blumenthal was at Kulper Park to talk about the new bill.

Right now, there is a federal penalty that only kicks in if they cross state lines with anything worth $5,000 or more.

However, the Senate just passed an amendment which would make the crime punishable with up to ten years in prison and a minimum fine of $250,000.

Blumenthal said, "these veterans served and sacrificed for our nation and the punishment ought to be federal, so that not only in Connecticut,  but all across the country, where 31 states have seen this same kind of despicable and disgraceful crime, ought to have the protection of this new federal law."

New Britain wasn't alone in memorial thefts. In Ansonia, in April, plaques were also stolen. Oftentimes, this metal is just used for scrap for a couple of bucks.

Blumenthal says he's confident the amendment will pass the House and if it does, it will become law in a few weeks.

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