SPRINGFIELD -- Thieves have taken a 3-foot-long copper sword atop Lincoln's Tomb in what is believed to be the first theft at the site in more than a century.
An employee noticed last week that the sword was cut from a statue of a Civil War artillery officer, theSpringfield State Journal-Register reported Saturday. Officials think the sword was stolen sometime between September and early November.
Nothing had been stolen from the Springfield site, which is the final resting place of Abraham Lincoln, since the sword on the same statue was taken more than 100 years ago, said Dave Blanchette, a spokesman for the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. Then, the sword was bronze.
"We just cannot imagine why someone would even think about doing it, let alone climb up the steps and actually do it," Blanchette said.
The statue is on the tomb's balcony, which is closed to visitors. Workers would likely have spotted a thief during the day, but no one guards the tomb at night, Blanchette said.
A security guard was posted overnight after a 1987 incident in which racist graffiti was spray-painted on the tomb. Five teenagers were arrested. But budget cuts ended that position within a few years of the incident, he said.
The rest of the statue was unharmed. Officials plan to fix the statue, Blanchette said.