Investigators are calling the theft of 200 bronze star grave markers a cold-hearted crime against those who served our country and their families -- and they're asking the public to help catch the culprits.
Every Memorial Day weekend, volunteers place flags in the bronze stars used to honor veterans, so it's not hard to imagine their disgust when they found dozens of markers were missing.
Corinne Schunk buried her husband 13 years ago, and now she has another reason to mourn.
"It's hard," she said. "It's been here for 13 years, and now it's gone."
The bronze star that honored her husband's military service is now missing, along with others which were taken from three cemeteries in Isanti County. While some families are outraged, others are deeply hurt.
"I think it's just ridiculous," said Kathandra Taylor, a veteran's widow. "I mean, these people fight for our freedoms and look what they get in return."
Isanti County sheriff's investigators believe the thieves want to sell the metal for some quick cash, but the vets at the local VFW, which donates the bronze stars, says those selfish ambitions may leave graves bare because -- at a cost of $20 each -- they can't afford to replace them all. Volunteers say they will try their best to get the bronze stars back.
For some, the bronze markers are the only recognition a veteran will receive after death, which makes the theft even more devastating.
"It makes me feel really sad that people have to stoop so low to do something like this," said Dorothy Pearson.