UPDATED: Monday, July 9, 2012 --- 5:30 p.m.
It's a crime sheriff's deputies are taking personally.
Military markers have been stolen from veterans' graves, all in hopes of making a quick buck.
It happened last week at a cemetery in Hustisford in Dodge County.
Families are upset, veterans are angry and you can hardly blame them.
Next to tombstones where there are supposed to be veterans' markers, there are nothing but broken flags lying on the ground because those markers have been stolen.
Today police were taking pictures at grave sites, gathering as much evidence as possible.
Dodge County Sheriff Todd Nehls said, "I have veterans driving in patrol cars every day in this county and to us veterans this is personal."
On the fourth of July reports of broken flags and missing markers began coming in.
In all, more than 30 of the military grave markers have been stolen from veterans' grave sites.
Randy Nehls said, "It's a lot of frustration."
Randy is a veteran himself, and secretary of the Hustisford American Legion.
When the markers went missing he got the calls.
He walked the cemetery to see how many had been stolen.
It's a crime he still doesn't understand.
He said, "These are people who gave you the freedom to be able to live as you do and to steal something from them, that's just not called for."
The sheriff says the brass markers were likely stolen by someone looking to make money by selling them as scrap metal.
He says, "It's pathetic if it happens. It's disturbing."
But it's a crime the sheriff says has become more common because recycling centers are paying more for brass.
He says, "To me, as a veteran, I think it's appalling. We are going to be aggressively pursuing them."
More than anything Randy says he just wants people to get these markers back. He wants the people who took them to turn them over and wants anyone who knows who those thieves might be to contact police.
Deputies will also be stepping up patrols in cemeteries.
Legion members want anyone who realizes a marker is missing from the grave of a relative to report it to them, so they can get a better idea exactly how many were stolen.
Posted: Saturday, July 7, 2012 -- 7:11p.m.
HUSTISFORD, Wis. (AP) -- The Dodge County sheriff's office is stepping up its patrols in local cemeteries after thieves stole brass flag markers from the gravesites of 20 veterans.
Deputies responded to a complaint this week by the Hustisford American Legion. A legion member reported that 20 of the brass markers had been stolen.
Sheriff Todd Nehls says it's becoming more common for the markers to be stolen because local recycling centers are paying more for brass.
He tells The Reporter of Fond du Lac (http://fondul.ac/N5i7iB ) one might expect recycling-center workers to question people who bring in those markers, but they don't.
Nehls is a Wisconsin National Guard veteran. He says stealing markers from dead veterans is just as bad as desecrating the flag.
Hustisford is 35 miles south of Fond du Lac.
Information from: The Reporter, http://www.fdlreporter.com
Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.