(CNN)An historical plaque marking the site of a slave auction went missing in Charlottesville, Virginia, and police are offering an award of up to $1,000.
A bronze slave auction plaque has gone missing from Charlottesville's Court Square
The Charlottesville Police Department was notified around 9 a.m. Thursday that the plaque had disappeared, according to a city press release.
The plaque, memorializing one of several slave auction blocks around the Court Square area, had been located on the street, surrounded by bricks, and near a building labeled "Number Nothing." That structure was built as a mercantile store in the 1820s, according to the city.
A stone block that once sat outside the building's southwest corner was used for auctioning both goods and people until slavery was abolished near the end of the Civil War.
"Slave Auction Block," the missing plaque reads in large letters. Beneath that, it says, "On this site slaves were bought and sold."
After police determined the plaque was gone, they then discovered that "1619" had been written on a light pole with what appeared to be dirt from underneath the plaque.
The city says it does not know whether the plaque was taken for protection, or whether it was stolen, but is hoping for the safe return of the plaque that is "of great value to the Charlottesville community."
A reward of up to $1,000 is being offered for information leading to an arrest and anyone with information is urged to contact police.
"The city is very disappointed that a bronze historic plaque in Court Square related to the slave auction block appears to have been stolen from its location in a city sidewalk," said City Manager Tarron Richardson in a statement.