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Panel votes to crack down on veterans' grave vandals

Metal grave markers are being stolen from the grave sites of veterans either as an act of vandalism or to get the metal to sell to scrap yards.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted Thursday to impose severe federal penalties for vandals who desecrate graves or steal grave plaques of deceased military veterans.

Without discussion, the committee approved the House-passed bill (H.R. 3480) on a voice vote for Senate consideration. The House approved the bill on May 21.

Metal grave markers are being stolen from the grave sites of veterans either as an act of vandalism or to get the metal to sell to scrap yards.

Incidents have occurred in Texas, Washington state and Michigan.

The measure would make such acts that occur to a veteran's grave in a federal or private cemetery a federal crime.

It would require the U.S. Sentencing Commission to review its guidelines and increase penalties for those convicted of crimes associated with "desecration, theft, or trafficking in, a grave marker, headstone, monument, or other object, intended to permanently mark a veteran's grave." It also states penalties should be "appropriately severe."