Low. Just … Low.

As if historical preservationists haven’t got enough on their minds, they now have to contend with thieves ripping off commemorative bronze plaques from public places.

Officials in three New Jersey counties are puzzling over the disappearance of markers from parks and other public venues. The thieves went to a lot of trouble for something that isn’t exactly in the same league as a diamond necklace. According to the story, bronze recently was at a high of $2 a pound, so a 30-pound marker would fetch a grand total of $60 as a lump of metal.

Of course, markers are more than lumps of metal.

For one thing, they’re engraved with images and names, so (as the story notes), replacing that 30-pound marker costs more like $3,000, all told.

For another, they’re irreplaceable threads in the local fabric. The Revolutionary War marker mentioned in this story had been in place since the 1920s, making the marker itself a bit of local history.

Interestingly, some officials think the markers were stolen for their historical value, not for the metal. The thieves, they say, might have taken the plaques to auction.

I’m having a bit of trouble imagining the sort of person who would consider it OK to bid on, and own, a stolen marker. (And could it be mistaken for anything else? Please.)

What a sad thought.