Thieves steal ceremonial rifles and trash American Legion Post in Pomona

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POMONA, Calif. (KABC) — The American Legion Post 30 in Pomona is in shambles after a series of burglaries.

“This is where the 10 rifles where being stored for ceremonial purposes,” said Javier Hinostroza, the Post’s commander.

Hinostroza pointed to the now empty cabinet that held M1 Garands. The World War II-era weapons were taken back on Dec. 30.

“Those rifles where used for ceremonial purposes,” he said. “They would go ahead and do the 21-gun salute volley for funerals, they would be used for our color guard ceremonies. So it was very active for us to use those.”

A security camera captured one intruder as he jumped over the bar. The motion alerted Hinostroza who called authorities. The Pomona Police Department told Eyewitness News they detained eight people for burglary and trespassing. All were cited and released, but only one of the rifles was recovered.

“In our eyes, it’s just going to be a return of the same problematic people,” Hinostroza said.

He’s also concerned about the remaining nine rifles, which can operate with live ammunition if an adaptor is removed.

The break-in is just the latest in series of burglaries that have left the historic Post trashed, damaged and without power.

“The entire amount of disrespect that was done to the entire building. To see a lot of the wartime memorabilia just thrown on the ground, walked all over, burned… it’s very gut-wrenching and hits you to the core,” said Hinostroza, a Marine Corps veteran.

Despite putting up cameras, shoring up doorways and other openings it has not stopped thieves from continuing to find a way in.

“The door was ripped off, they got access into the kitchen, once we boarded that up they decided to rip the panels off the side of the building… and they would crawl through,” he said.

The Post, which has served generations of veterans, is now going to be put up for sale.

“It’s become a financial burden at this point to try and maintain this building,” Hinostroza said.

But the veteran’s organization does plan to relocate within the city and will need the community’s support.

“We are looking for any type of help that we can get to go ahead and move past this and go ahead and move forward,” Hinostroza said. “That way we can continue servicing the veterans in this community.”

If you’d like to reach out to the American Legion Post 30, contact Javier Hinostroza at javier.hino@americanlegionpomona30.org

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