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Thieves steal badges honoring late officers at San Fernando Police Department

Three of the five replica memorial police badges that honor San Fernando officers who died in the line of duty were stolen in the early morning hours of Monday, Jan. 2 from a memorial case on the west wall in the lobby of the small city’s police department.

San Fernando Police Officer, Jesse Paderez. (Photo courtesy San Fernando Police Dept.)

San Fernando Police Officer, Dennis Frank Webb. (Photo courtesy San Fernando Police Dept.)

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The San Fernando Police Department’s display case was forcibly pried open. The remaining badges have now been  removed by city officials.

“We took a police report and we have been reviewing the surveillance video in an attempt to try and identify who took them,” said San Fernando Police Department Lieutenant Irwin Rosenberg. “We also collected some evidence which is being processed and we are just continuing to investigate it at this point.”

The badges are not the originals that the deceased officers wore. While they look real, they are duplicates placed in the memorial case as a remembrance of officers who were lost in the line of duty.

Burglars might have stolen the badges for a variety of reasons. Two of the missing badges do not resemble the badges worn today by San Fernando police officers. And the badges have two screw-on type posts on the back and are not made to pin on a shirt like a legitimate badge.

Rosenberg speculated that the badges could have been stolen as collector items, or for the simple goal of stealing them, or in an attempt to use them in criminal activity.

“We are looking at video footage closely,” he said. “We did collect some evidence that is being processed, which hopefully will result in further information.”

Many government agencies close their lobbies at night, but San Fernando’s police department lobby is open 24 hours, seven days a week, which allows people to use it for a variety of reasons. Some of those include providing the homeless shelter in a warm location and offering a place where people who feel unsafe can enter, pick up the lobby phone and ask for help.

San Fernando has a police officer at the station 24 hours a day.

“We don’t have any plans at this point to close it, and it’s unfortunate someone would take advantage of us doing that as a service to our community to come in and steal those badges,” Rosenberg said.  “We are going to continue to keep the lobby open, but it’s unfortunate someone took advantage of the fact that we are one of those few police departments that continues to do that. It is still our commitment despite what happened.”

Rosenberg said the department has notified local law enforcement partners about the theft in case anyone attempts to present the badges as police identification.

He added that the department most likely will replace the badges and continue to display them — in a more secure type of casing.

The stolen badges memorialized late officers Benjamin W. Mushaney, Jesse K. Paderez and Dennis F. Webb.

Benjamin Mushaney was shot in the chest on Oct. 7, 1930 by a rifle bullet while responding to a landlord-tenant dispute in the 1300 block of Hollister Street. The shooting occurred at 11:20 a.m. and involved a female tenant attempting to obtain a $2 refund from the suspect, her landlord.

Dennis Webb was fatally shot six times at close range by a man he stopped during the early morning hours of December 24, 1980. The suspect fit the description of an armed robber who had held up a 7-Eleven  in nearby Sylmar about 90 minutes earlier. The killer drove off in Webb’s black and white patrol car, abandoning it in a park about eight miles from the shooting scene. William Mothershed, a former honor student at Sylmar High School, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

Jesse Paderez died on Wednesday, July 17, 2002 in the parking lot of the San Fernando Police Station after his handgun fell to the ground and fired, striking him in the head and fatally wounding him.

For more information about the fallen San Fernando Police Department officers, visit https://ci.san-fernando.ca.us/sfpolice.

Anyone with information about the stolen replica badges is asked to call the station at (818) 898-1267.

Anonymous tips can be registered at LACrimeStoppers.org, or by calling (800)222-TIPS.

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