According to the Kern County Historical Society, thieves are stealing metal plates from historical monuments. Out of the 150 historical monument plates in Kern County, five are missing because of thieves.
The Kern County Historical Society said this has been a problem for years. A plate was stolen from downtown Bakersfield off of a building at the intersection of 18th Street and Chester Avenue. It used to mark the building as the site of an old pharmacy. Now, it just looks like the paint has been scratched. Thieves take the plates for the metal which is often bronze, brass or copper.
If thieves trade them in as scrap metal, they'll make about $50 or less depending on the metal. To replace them costs about $2,000. That hefty price is why most times, the plates are not replaced.
"It's a sad case because not only are they defacing property, but they're taking a part of our history," said Gary Wilcox, of the Kern County Historical Society.
The most recent plate was stolen from the Father Garces Baptismal site marker west of Woody. The others are scattered throughout the county. The Historical Society said in addition to the thefts, many of the plates are vandalized with graffiti. Many members feel like the plaques are not worth fixing since many are destroyed.
If a person is caught stealing one of these plates, they would most likely be charged with misdemeanor theft.