American flags are a hot item for thieves

Tuesday, September 25th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

With the recent surge in patriotism, flags are in short supply, so some people have decided to steal them. Already, a West Tulsa church, an East Tulsa business, a South Tulsa home and even a Veteran's hospital have had flags stolen.

News on Six crime reporter Lori Fullbright says whether the thieves just want a flag of their own or are hoping to turn a quick buck, it doesn't matter to the victims, they just can't believe someone would be so low at a time like this. The American and POW flags are flying high now outside one of Tulsa's Veteran's Clinics, but just two days after the New York attack, they were gone, stolen right off the flag pole. Ted Hanfelder/Veteran's Clinic Administrator: "Somebody had cut the rigging and left he ropes in a pile on the ground and the flags were gone." Ted says because this is such a sensitive and emotional time for veterans, the clinic borrowed flags from a veteran's clinic in Muskogee in order to get them up again quickly. "The glad means so much to our veterans. When they're not there, they're sorely missed."

The folks who arrived for Sunday Service at an West Tulsa church were equally shocked that their 4-foot by 8-foot flag was gone; it had been stretched across the opening of this carport. Cecil Watkins, Deacon of Crossroad Full Gospel Church: "It just breaks your heart, especially now when we need to all need to work together." Thieves were also busy in East Tulsa over the weekend, the folks at this business arrived to find an empty flag holder. Alice Sanders, American Business Systems: "We've been here ten years and no one has taken anything or tried to break in. You wouldn't think it would happen right now.”

We also heard from two women who had flags stolen from their front yards over the weekend. They suspect it was teens, trying to sell the flags for a quick buck, so their best advice, take your flags in at night and don't buy a flag on a street corner, because you might be getting a piece of stolen glory.

The Veteran's Clinic no longer leaves its flags out at night and they're going to switch from rope to metal riggings so they can't be cut. If you want a flag, buy it only from a reputable dealer or store. If you suspect someone is selling stolen flags, call police.