Police refer stolen-plaque case to metal-theft team

       After initially allowing about a week and a half to pass without assigning a case number, Colorado Springs Police have taken recent steps regarding the stolen “old fort” plaque at 2818 W. Pikes Peak Ave.

At the 1936 ceremony, Governor Ed Johnson stands beside the then-new bronze plaque commemorating the "old fort" that had stood at that site in the 1860s.
Courtesy of Dave Hughes

       Lt. Maggie Santos, the acting commander at the Police Department's Gold Hill Substation, told the Westside Pioneer Jan. 19 that she has referred the case - originally reported Jan. 5 - to the PD's metal-theft team. That's based on the “horrible but true” possibility that the bronze plaque was stolen by thieves because it might get them fifty dollars or so from a metal recycler, Santos said.
       Information on the missing plaque also ap-peared in the city's online Police Blotter Jan. 20 and, according to reports from Westsiders, radio and TV news aired the story shortly after that,
       In addition, a police officer came out Jan. 20 to talk to Ed and Shirley Valdez, who live at 2818 W. Pikes Peak Ave. and had called in the Jan. 5 report.
       The marker's wording, quoted in the Police Blotter, had been provided to police by the Westside Pioneer, which first reported on the theft in its edition of Jan. 12.
       Dedicated in 1936 at a ceremony attended by both the Colorado Springs mayor and Colorado governor, the plaque - attached to a vertical stone slab on the sidewalk - had provided a brief description of times in 1864 and 1868 when Colorado City settlers were forced to gather in a stockade, then at that site, for defense from marauding Plains Indians.
       When the Valdezes phoned in the report, a police staffer told them that a case number would be provided within three days. But that number didn't come back until Jan. 16. Santos said the case “regretfully” had not been seen as a possible metal-theft case but instead got put with others that “have no follow-up potential.”
       She added that with budget cutbacks the police staff is “spread so thin [that] we are overwhelmed with calls for service.” At least now, with the metal team alerted, “if they see it in searches of metal facilities, it will catch their attention.”
       She said the chances of recovery are probably slim, but she pointed to a previous case in Colorado Springs where a valuable metal object was found intact in “some scrap dude's house” six months after being reported stolen.
       For now, the stone slab remains empty. In the event the plaque is not recovered, the Old Colorado City Historical Society has begun preliminary considerations of what might be done to replace it, according to the society's president, Sharon Swint.
       Anyone with information about the theft is asked to call police at 444-7000. The case number is 12-02915.

Westside Pioneer article