Published: May 10, 2010 11:35 PM EDT

PORT CHAROTTE, Fla. - It's a story that has some local veterans at a loss for words. A man stole a dozen military service medals from a veterans home.

Early Friday morning, someone at the Veterans Affairs in Port Charlotte noticed a suspicious man inside. A short time later, they noticed open drawers, and realized the man was a burglar. Deputies quickly tracked down a man matching the description - 26 year old Mitchell Pearson - and on him, found several stolen Military/Service medals, including a Purple Heart.

"He kept changing his story," Bob Carpenter of the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office said. "First one, he went to the V.A. at 3 in the morning to read the Bible. The next time, he said he was retrieving medals from his grandfather."

Pearson even said he was there for research. Finally, detectives say Pearson confessed to stealing the medals, an act that deeply upsets local veterans.

"To lose medals because some because some person decided they wanted to take them to scrap them...it's totally unconscionable," veteran Walter Rash said.

Pearson is charged with Burglary and Grand Theft. He's being held in the Charlotte County Jail without bond.