State Representative Len Greene and other Naugatuck Valley Legislators placed their support behind a bill which increases the penalties for the damage or theft of veterans’ memorials. On Thursday, May 3rd, the bill passed unanimously in the House.
State Rep. Len Greene co-sponsored and greatly supported S.B. 198 An Act Concerning Desecration of War or Veterans’ Memorials, in effort to combat the recent incidents throughout the Naugatuck Valley area where monuments have been vandalized or stolen to presumably be sold as scrap metal.
Currently, criminal penalties for vandalism or theft are tied to the monetary value of the monument. Rep. Greene worked with his colleagues in the Select Committee on Veterans Affairs to increase penalties across the board regardless of the cost of the monument to better reflect the true value of such a memorial.
Under the Legislation, a person found guilty of intentionally defacing, mutilating or destroying a memorial or monument will be faced with a class D felony and shall be subject to a $5,000 fine.
In an effort to diminish the illegal scrap metal market, the bill also declares that a person who is caught knowingly possessing, purchasing or selling a stolen war or veterans’ memorial will also be charged with the same class D felony and a $5,000 fine.
Rep. Greene spoke on the House Floor on Thursday night in full support of the Legislation
“Three different communities late last year were pillaged by people we presume were trying to steal the metal from our war memorials to sell for scrap. This irreverent behavior affects not only the veterans and their families, but the communities as a whole,” said Greene. “This bill makes the desecration of our local veterans’ memorials a much strong crime in recognition of the fact that these crimes are against the community as a whole.”
Greene also discussed how the bill attempts to disincentivize the purchasing and selling of the stolen metal increasing the penalties against the seller and scrap metal buyer.
The bill has already been approved by the Senate and now awaits the Governor’s signature before becoming law.