Desecration carries a price

As we’ve said before, scrap thieves have a strange sense of value. Because they are stealing something they intend to sell as junk, they don’t see that it has greater value to anyone else.

Thus, houses are stripped for pennies on the dollar, art is treated as trash and even grave markers get no respect.

But just because that’s the way these criminals think, it shouldn’t be the way the rest of the civilized world reacts to their crimes. Scrap thieves have blown up homes and endangered entire neighborhoods while stealing gas lines, they’ve desecrated graves to get a few pounds of bronze and they’ve cut up sculpture thinking that a scrap dealer wouldn’t recognize a hand as a piece of art, not a piece of plumbing.

Increasingly they are being caught because of new laws requiring photo I.D. at scrap yards and because conscientious scrap dealers recognize their responsibility to help stamp out this scourge on society. And when they are caught, they deserve, for all the reasons above, to feel the full force of the law.

Military statue

And that applies, especially, to Richard Couturiaux, 31, of Hubbard, who stole and destroyed a military statue valued at $36,000 from the Mahoning Valley Memorial Park in Youngstown last March.

Couturiaux was sentenced to 26 months in prison last August, which certainly wasn’t excessive given his wanton destruction of a monument to our soldiers.

This seems to be lost on the Ohio Department of Corrections, which is attempting for the second time to give Couturiaux an early release. The Trumbull County Common Pleas judge who sentenced Couturiaux, Andrew Logan, objected to Couturiaux’s early release the first time it came up, and we trust he will do so again.

Giving Couturiaux early release would be inappropriate any time, but having the issue raised in such close proximity to Memorial Day only makes it easier to see that the full sentence fits the crime. Many of the World War II soldiers honored by that monument spent 26 months overseas in service to their country. Couturiaux earned a full 26 months in confinement to think about that.

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