Thieves stealing from the dead in Sanger

FRESNO, Calif.

Jess Puga would be almost 64 years old now. He served in the military, along with three of his brothers and their father. But a recent discovery at the cemetery has his family very upset, after they discovered thieves took his grave marker.

A quiet corner in the back of the Sanger Cemetery is a peaceful place Vivian Carrillo felt was the perfect setting for her family to rest. But, now she's concerned, it's a become a place for thieves to take advantage of the dead. Carrillo's brother, Jess served in the Navy, where some of his favorite memories were as a cook.

Carrillo said, "They fought for our country, they've served our country and to have their resting place desecrated is totally unforgivable."

The plaque is bronze, and not worth a lot for thieves to cash in on. But, Carrillo says cemetery workers told her brass sprinklers were also taken around the same time the grave marker turned up gone. She worries desperate thieves will return to take more.

Carrillo said, "Being that I'm a military mother and sister and daughter, I've always been red, white and blue and I guess I'm going to have to pick up a cause on this because something's gotta be done, we can't allow this."

This isn't the first time thieves have targeted Valley cemeteries. In May, thieves broke into a glass niche at St Peter's Cemetery, and took several valuables, including jewelry.

Since the most recent theft, Carrillo says she's started visiting the cemetery more often, just to make sure vandals aren't ripping off anyone else.

Carrillo says she is contacting some veteran organizations to see if this is becoming a trend and whether they can help replace the plaque. If not, she says she will save the money for her brother to get a new one.

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