CHEYENNE – Military medals dating back to World War II were taken over the weekend from a trailer outside Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1881.

Cheyenne police were alerted of the theft Monday morning after a passerby found an emptied shadow box near the trailer. The passerby called Martha Albright, whose father’s medals had been stored inside the box.

“For Cheyenne, I was shocked, because I didn’t think somebody would do something like that to military members,” Albright said.

Albright, who donated the medals about two years ago for Armed Forces Day, said other items, like her father’s jacket, were intact, but the medals were gone.

“I think whoever did this was completely non-caring about what our veterans do to give them the freedom to break into the place,” Albright said. “It’s an abomination that these people would do this. But the way society is going, what’s new?”

The trailer sits about 50 yards from the VFW post on East Seventh Street near Nationway. Though the theft was reported Monday morning, the break-in could have happened anytime over the weekend, post manager Clayton Schoepflin said.

“Unfortunately, my cameras don’t reach that far out, so I would never be able to positively identify when and who might have done this,” Schoepflin said.

The shadow box included Purple Heart and Bronze Star medals, Schoepflin said.

“You can’t put a price value on something like that,” Schoepflin said. “I could tell you that a Purple Heart, let’s say if it’s manufactured, costs maybe $15. But to somebody else, there’s no value to it because it’s so important to them or their family.”

Cheyenne Police Department spokesman Officer Kevin Malatesta said the officer investigating the case went to nearby pawn shops to notify them of the theft. The department also has an online system that allows law enforcement to coordinate with pawn shops.

“If items that are stolen are pawned, it will get flagged by the system,” Malatesta said.

Police were dispatched to the scene at 1 p.m. Monday, and the investigation is ongoing, Malatesta said.

While police investigate, Schoepflin implored whoever stole the medals to return them to the VFW post.

“Do the right thing,” Schoepflin said. “Because this is such a disgrace, not only to themselves, but it’s a disgrace to the family that provided these to us and to the member who earned them.”

Tom Coulter is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s state government reporter. He can be reached at tcoulter@wyomingnews.com or 307-633-3124. Follow him on Twitter at @tomcoulter_.

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