Security camera video has been obtained by 1 NEWS of plaques that were stolen from an RSA graveyard near Christchurch being sold as scrap metal.
The desecration of 40 graves of service men and women at a cemetery in Springston has caused immense upset for their families.
Errol Tweedy served in the Middle East and his son, Bruce, visits here often.
But this Mother’s Day was tougher than usual.
"When I come down on Sunday for Mother's Day there's no plaque there for my mother, it's gutting," said Mr Tweedy.
Forty families are experiencing the same pain, but police are on the trail of the offenders, after a transaction was caught on security camera by a Christchurch scrap metal dealer.
The plaques are valued at $4000.
The RSA is appealing to the thieves to return the 23 remaining plaques undamaged, they say they could just leave them somewhere anonymously.
The RSA will hold a special dedication service once all of the plaques are replaced.
"It will heal those wounds and make sure that the dignity and respect is restored for our deceased brothers and sisters," says RSA's Stan Hansen.