Thieves steal bronze plaque from Tacoma library

Thieves steal bronze plaque from Tacoma library
TACOMA, Wash. -- A local library may need more than just the Dewey Decimal System to find something that belongs in its collection.

Someone stole a large bronze plaque from in front of the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum in Tacoma, police said Wednesday. The library director discovered it missing earlier this week.

"It's such a shame. The plaque has no monetary value, besides the materials it's made of," said Stacie Osborne, who works across the street. "It's specified as 'Karpeles Manuscript Museum' and I don't understand how that could be a use to somebody else."

The bronze plaque is about 3.5 feet long by 3.5 feet wide and stood near a large rock in front of the library for 25 years, said director Tom Jutilla. He estimates the value at $4,000 - no small change for the non-profit, which showcases historic documents, papers, and objects.

"We don't charge any admission here because we want people to come in," Jutilla said. "It's really sad when people take our sign and we have to pay to replace it."

The library is closed every Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Jutilla discovered the plaque missing when he arrived for work Tuesday morning.

"It really makes me sad, frustrated, because, what's the sense? You can't reuse it," said Pat Champlin, who lives down the street from the library, off of Wright Park. "It really makes me sad that there's not enough respect for items like that."

This isn't the first time something has been taken from the library. Last year, someone took a cannon from in front of the building as part of a property dispute. It was later returned.

Police have no suspect description in this case, said Tacoma Police spokeswoman Officer Loretta Cool.

Meantime, other stolen bronze items have turned up in scrap yards across Western Washington in recent years.

"It raises another question: why are these scrap yards not being more regulated?" asked Osborne. "It's kind of hard to disguise a museum plaque, you know what I mean? It's engraved with the words and dates on it."