Senior Center's U.S. Flag stolen

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Police investigating class D felony

Cassville police are investigating a theft case in the city, as someone has allegedly stolen the U.S. Flag from its post at the Cassville Senior Center

The flag, which was attached to a flagpole and has been flying in front of the building for years, had been stolen and the rope and hardware attaching was cut and missing, according to Sgt. Donnie Privett of the Cassville Police Department.

"It appeared the rope had been cut," said Privett, who said the caller was notified by an email from another employee that the flag was missing, along with the hardware that connects the flag to the rope.

Privett said the flag pole has been there for a long time, and he could not recall ever having such a crime occur in the city.

"I can't tell you we've ever taken a report for a flag being stolen," he said. "With all the things going on with the Confederate flag and all these kids running around with flags in their trucks, it could be related, but I can't say for sure. But, it's a pretty disrespectful crime."

Theft of an American flag in the state of Missouri is considered a class D felony.

"The offense of stealing is a Class D felony if any United States national flag designed, intended and used for display on buildings or stationary flagstaffs in the open," according to Missouri Revised Statutes.

The offense constitutes a class C felony if the value of the property or services is $25,000 or more.

"The dollar amount is not that much, but it specifically states the offense in the revised statutes," Privett said.

Adena Cox-Holloway, administrator at the senior center, said she first noticed the flag missing when she arrived at the center at approximately 7:40 a.m. on July 29.

"We came in the morning and our flag was not on the pole," she said. "It's been there for years. I've been here for over two years. I would assume it's been here since the center was here."

Cox-Holloway said the center has seen some vandalism, but the flag has never been tampered with or stolen.

"We've had some vandalism in the past," she said. "They've messed with our sign right beside the flagpole, taking and hiding letters in the bushes and rearranging them, which is a little disconcerting because they spell out not-so-nice words. And, we've also had vandalism in our storage building, where we keep medical items that we loan out, like walkers and hospital beds, to seniors in the community. That building was broken into probably about a year ago. It is not appropriate in any manner."

Cox-Holloway said Privett was quick to respond.

"He arrived very quickly," she said. "They [city police] said they would definitely look into it. They were not too happy themselves. It is unfortunate. It will have to be replaced."

Cox-Holloway said what was most upsetting about the offense was not so much the monetary value of the flag and expense of replacing it, but its significance and symbolism.

"It is sad in this day and age when you hang an American flag up, it's taken, you know," she said. "It's just a sad thing. And, I don't know if all the stuff going on with the flags has something to do with it, if it has heightened the whole flag hysteria. But, I would hope that it would not happen again."

Dana Kammerlohr, police chief, said the crime is disrespectful because of what the flag represents.

"My father, who was a veteran, taught both my sister and myself to be respectful of the American Flag," she said. "I feel it is a symbol of our freedom that we have today. [A flag] being stolen from the Senior Citizens' Center is a disgrace, as I know there are a lot of veterans that go there and they are the ones that made the sacrifice for our freedom."

Cox-Holloway said she hopes that whoever stole the flag realizes the seriousness of the crime.

"It is a felony offense that some youngster may not be aware of what a serious offense that is," she said.

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