Va. man charged with stealing Newtown tribute signs after bragging to reporter

These Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting memorial signs were reported stolen and recovered in Herndon, according to police. (Courtesy Herndon Police Department)

WASHINGTON – A Fairfax County man with a criminal history is responsible for stealing two signs dedicated to the memory of Sandy Hook shooting victims, police say.

And that to prove he stole the signs, the man sent a photo of himself with them to a reporter in Connecticut.

After reading one of the reporter’s articles about a victims of the Sandy Hook school shootings, police say 28-year-old Andrew Truelove sent the reporter a message that he had stolen two signs dedicated to the victims from playgrounds in Connecticut and New Jersey. He even included a photo of himself with the signs, making a lewd gesture.

The reporter contacted police, says Herndon Lt. Jim Moore.

Moore says police in Connecticut contacted him with Truelove’s possible address earlier this week.

“He took pictures of the signs within his house. One shows a hallway looking out to the backyard. It was kind of distinguishable. So we actually did surveillance and walked around the property,” he says.

A search warrant allowed police to find the signs, which were inside the home on Fillmore Street where Truelove was renting a room.

Court records show Truelove has a long list of prior offenses in Virginia. He served time for an attempted kidnapping charge out of Norfolk and is face multiple misdemeanor charges – including destruction of property and shooting at a train or car – in Fairfax County.

Police say Truelove turned himself into the the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center this week on an offense unrelated to the signs.

Meanwhile, Moore says his department is planning a road trip.

“I think the best part of this is that we’re going to be able to return these signs to the families,” Moore says.

Both signs were dedications to shooting victims, 7-year-old Chase Kowalski and 7-year-old Grace McDonnell, from Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Truelove is being held at the Fairfax County Detention Center on a charge of possession of stolen property. Charges in Connecticut and New Jersey are pending, police say.

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