An upstate Veterans memorial has become a target for crime. The Pendleton Veterans Park was hit twice in one week by thieves and vandals.
Joan Kelly and Wanda Batten have put their hearts and hard work into Pendleton Veterans Park.
“I love to see the flags flying,” said Batten.
“Years ago, my grandmother helped to dedicate this park when it was named veterans park because the American Legion built it for my two uncles that were killed in WWII.”
They say the surrounding community is invested too. They raised $50,000 to put a monument up last year, to honor all men and women who have served our country.
“The memorial is so much,” said Batten. “We don’t want anything to happen to the monument. We worked hard for it and we worked hard for the park.”
That work was tarnished Friday when 4 veteran flags were stolen from the memorial. “They don’t realize what they took and it just breaks my heart,” Batten claims she said after driving by that ropes were cut on the poles and flags were missing. The thief got away with all of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps flags.
“It’s about who it’s honoring, you know,” Kelly asked. “And it’s not like these vandals have stolen anything they can sell for profit.”
According to Anderson County Sheriff’s office reports, days before, someone kicked in a bathroom door at the park and put holes in the wall. Two cameras facing the bathrooms were also stolen.
“It’s just damage, just tearing things up. So, there’s no rhyme or reason,” claimed Kelly.
But Joan and Wanda say crimes like this have happened at the park before. “They kicked over the spot lights that illuminated the flags. They also did other damage in other parts of the park at that time too,” Kelly explained.
For them, having the flags stolen is the last straw. “Everybody at church was highly upset, a lot of the veterans, because someone took the flags,” said Batten.
They say a maintenance employee has the crime on camera and they’re handing it over to investigators.
They want the thieves responsible to be charged and be sentenced to community service, to keep the Veterans Park clean.
“We’re not going to let them defeat us and our purpose to honor our veterans,” added Kelly.
The Pendleton Parks Department says the vandalism left $ 500 in damage to the park. The Anderson County Sheriff’s Office is investigating. Deputies say no arrests have been made. If you have any information, call anonymously to the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office or Crime Stoppers.