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Thief steals 'priceless' artifacts from WWII ship museum

A view inside the LST 393 at the LST 393 Veterans Museum, in Muskegon, Mich., on April 30, 2019.

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By LYNN MOORE | MLive.com, Walker, Mich. | Published: August 14, 2019

MUSKEGON, Mich. (Tribune News Service) — A thief brazenly stole World War II medals and other memorabilia from a floating ship museum, including ripping some items off a uniform on display.

The thefts of about a dozen items from the USS LST 393 WWII Veterans Museum in Muskegon occurred Saturday, Aug. 3, said John Stephenson, a member of the museum’s board of directors. Among the items are a patch and lapel pins that were stolen off a woman’s U.S. Army Air Corps uniform, Stephenson said.

“It makes me sad and disappointed to disrespect veterans and a museum dedicated to them by stealing artifacts meant to honor them,” Stephenson said.

Police have a security camera image of a middle-aged man they are seeking to identify and question.

The LST 393 – a landing ship that transported thousands of troops, vehicles and prisoners during World War II – is a popular tourist attraction near downtown Muskegon. Visitors take self-guided tours of the museum’s six decks and displays that include many military uniforms.

Some of the items that were taken, such as the Ninth Air Force patch ripped off the woman’s uniform, are not that valuable, Stephenson said.

“They’re not worth much, but they’re priceless,” he said.

Other missing items include the hat, or “cover,” included with the woman’s uniform as well as leggings, a Korean War medal taken from a display case and shoulder patches taken from a WWII Japanese soldier’s tunic, Stephenson said.

They are items that could be concealed in a pocket, he added.

Police have carefully reviewed security footage which shows someone “fiddling” with the woman’s uniform and other evidence of thefts that occurred when the ship was open to the public, Stephenson said.

“It’s angering,” he said.

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