MUSKEGON, Mich. — A purple heart, battle ribbons, unit patches, insignia and other items are missing from the military museum aboard LST 393 in Muskegon.
Someone took items from display cases and ripped the relics from uniforms on display.
“It has been really heartbreaking because people bring things here and they trust us to keep them safe for them and display them,” said Ike Villalpando, the LST 393 museum manager.
Villalpando says the display item were stolen Saturday, Aug. 3. Surveillance cameras scattered in and outside of LST 393 recorded a person of interest strolling through the exhibits. He seems to be removing items that are now missing.
“You see something is gone and the only person there at the moment is this man,” Villalpando said. “Looking at things and putting something in his pocket.”
“I actually cried a little because I thought it was so sad,” said Judie Beecham. A photograph of her uncle in uniform is on display in the museum.
“I was concerned,” she said. “I didn’t know if the guy stole pictures, too. But my uncle’s picture is up there so everything is OK.”
The police are investigating and may be monitoring websites where military items and souvenirs are sold.
“I think it is terrible,” said Westin Wiseman. “My grandpa served in World War ll. We have all of his medals. It would be really sad if those medals got stolen.”
With the surveillance video and all the news and social media coverage, staff at LST 393 are optimistic police will identify the suspect and the stolen items will be returned.
“When it is on a uniform from the 1940s or earlier they are valuable because they are originals,” Villalpando said. “To the families it is pretty much priceless.”
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