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Replica police badge stolen from late Chief Branson's grave

GOSHEN, Ind. -- A grave robber targeted the headstone of the late Goshen Police Chief, Wade Branson, less than a week after his funeral.

It’s a shocking crime in a community still grieving.

The heartless thief stole a replica of Chief Branson’s police department badge at his gravesite.

ABC 57 News spoke to people about this theft at the cemetery.

Many of them did not want to go on camera, but they all told ABC 57 News they thought the theft was shameful.

The loss of a loved one is always hard.

Sometimes, we can find closure in knowing our loved ones have been laid to rest in peace at a quiet and sombering cemetery like West Goshen Cemetery.

But imagine finding a piece of that loved one’s grave missing.

“You’d feel empty, like something’s missing, like why would somebody take something that wasn’t theirs,” said Goshen resident Marge Mast.

That’s exactly what happened Thursday for the late Chief Wade Branson’s family.

Police officers in Goshen tell ABC 57 News that the family noticed the late Chief’s badge was no longer on his grave where it was placed in his honor.

The badge was a replica that Goshen Police had given to the late Chief’s family as a part of a floral arrangement.

People ABC 57 News spoke with at the cemetery are disgusted with the fact this crime would take place at someone’s final resting place.

“It’s terrible that someone would steal something off of a grave, and I don’t know what they are [going to] get out of it," said Mast. "I think that’s just terrible intrusion.”

Mast tells ABC 57 News she just wants whoever took the badge to put it back where it belongs and walk away; she even says she would forgive the person if they gave it back.

ABC 57 News spoke with police officers on Friday that say the detective’s bureau would decide whether or not to proceed with an investigation.

In lighter news, however, a scholarship fund has been started in the name of the late Chief Wade Branson.

Goshen police began taking donations Friday afternoon at “First Fridays” in downtown Goshen.

If you’d like to donate to this scholarship fund, you can call the Goshen Police Department.

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