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CHP officer's grave marker stolen; fourth attack on his memorials

A granite slab marking the grave of a California Highway Patrol officer has disappeared from a Santa Cruz cemetery -- the fourth attack on his memorials in the 10 years since he died in the line of duty.

The plaque commemorating Officer John Pedro went missing from Oakwood Cemetery over the weekend, according to Santa Cruz County sheriff's Deputy April Skalland.  A solar light illuminating his grave was also stolen but there was no damage elsewhere. 

Pedro died June 3, 2002 when his patrol car hit a tree as he was pursuing a speeder.

In 2005, the state honored him with two signs on California 1. Within months, one was cut down and the other was defaced, with the officer's last name cut out of it.  Not long afterward, someone chopped down a six-foot-tall redwood cross that was erected at the site of his death.

The grave marker, etched with a likeness of Pedro's badge,  weighed 150 to 200 pounds and cost about $800. The theft is under investigation, Skalland said.

"It's extremely disrespectful and disgusting that someone would continue to deface his memorials," she said. "It's something that people can't understand."

Pedro, 36, was married to a fellow CHP officer and the two had a young child. His widow, Colleen Gilmartin, is reportedly offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.

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-- Steve Chawkins 

 
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