By Matt Petrillo

GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP, N.J. (CBS) — In South Jersey, police in Atlantic County are searching for the person responsible for vandalizing the burial plaque of a World War II veteran. Police believe the suspect who dug up the brass plague from a nearby cemetery then tried selling it for cash at a scrapyard.

The brass plaque has the name Thomas Smith on it and in the middle, you can see the words “World War II.” Police confirm Smith was a veteran from the area.

Officers also say the plaque was taken from Germania Cemetery in Galloway Township last week. Police say the thief cut the plaque into pieces and took it to American Recycling to resell it.

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But a worker at the recycling plant tells CBS3 its policy to never accept items from a church or cemetery. So instead, a worker took the pieces of the plaque and call the police.

During that time, the suspect left.

Now officers are looking for the man that took it.

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A local VFW post calls the desecration of a veteran’s grave disturbing.

“It’s guys like that that made the country what it is,” Walt Young said. “And when you go out to a grave or cemetery, and you do that, that’s cowardice. You’re a coward when you do that. It’s disheartening, and that’s hard to replace. I don’t even know if you can get those anymore. We sell the bronze ones and they’ll steal those, much much more.”

Police say the plaque costs about $1,000, but the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs says it’s now taking action after we informed them about the incident.

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“This appears to be a Government-furnished flat bronze marker. VA has not received a request to replace this marker; however, once VA receives a completed VA Form 40-1330, either from a family member, a cemetery official, or a Veterans Service Organization, VA will start the process since we now have a photograph of the damaged marker,” a spokesperson said.