Robbing the tomb of an old, dead world leader has long been left to the imaginations of Hollywood screenwriters. Now, it's become a modern day reality.

The Lincoln Tomb has been robbed of a 3-foot-long copper sward standing at the top of the monument. An employee recently noticed that the sword was missing from a Civil War artillery officer that's part of the Lincoln Tomb. The employee suspects that it was cut from the monument between September and November.

It's been more than 100 years since the site has been robbed. The previous robbery at the Lincoln Tomb was of the same item—a sword—that was bronze.

The platform that the sword was taken from is not accessible to the public. It's a balcony that stands in front of the pillar protruding skyward.  In 1987, a security guard was posted overnight at the monument because the Lincoln Tomb was vandalized with racist graffiti. The night guard was recently cut because of dwindling state revenue.

The State of Illinois isn't the only place experiencing crimes with an interest in copper. Railway lines, power stations and war memorials are being robbed more frequently, according to a Daily Mail report. They report the plunder of copper, lead and broze is estimated at $1.24 billion (£770million) per year.

The price of metal is soaring, with copper doubling to more than [$8,037] a ton since 2009, driven by growing demand in the booming economies of China and India, says Daily Mail reporter Keith Gladdis. This means a scrap metal thief can make [$160] or more for just a few yards of copper cabling.