Police nab suspected military headstone thief

Police nab suspected military headstone thief
BREMERTON, Wash. -- Police believe they've nabbed the man responsible for swiping headstone plates from the graves of military veterans last week.

With an assist from a vigilant scrap metal company, police were able to track down and arrest Robert McDonald of Bremerton this morning.

Levi Taylor is the manager at Bremerton's Navy City Metals. He wasn't aware that 12 bronze and brass plates from a community cemetery north of Poulsbo were stolen on Friday. So when a man showed up later that day asking for $350 for some grave stones and brass scales, his internal alarm bells didn't go off.

McDonald claimed he got the grave markers from someone else, but after learning about the thefts, Taylor and his scales manager, Dave Young, put two and two together and called police.

"I'm like 'Hey, this guy just came in here. Here's his info. We'll help you catch him,'" Taylor told police.

Because Navy City Metals records every transaction and gets driver's license numbers from all its customers, Bremerton police were already looking for McDonald when he ran a red light and led them on a high speed chase. He eluded them until this morning when they tracked him down and arrested him.

For his part, Taylor and Young are just glad they were able to help police solve such a disturbing crime.

"I mean, that's pretty low," Taylor said. "I mean, even for $350. New they're probably more than that. And on Veteran's Day? That's wrong."

McDonald has yet to be charged with stealing the markers, but he was charged with trafficking in stolen property, and is being held on $35,000 bail. The actual grave plates are still missing.

Police say they expect to make one more arrest in the case.