Chuck Williams: Downtown flag thief was bold

chwilliams@ledger-enquirer.comApril 7, 2014 

The thief struck with a boldness that left even a veteran police officer shaking his head in amazement.

The crime happened Sunday, March 23 at 7:51 p.m.

The place?

My front porch on Broadway in The Historic District.

The suspect?

A black man in a dark jogging suit, wearing white tennis shoes.

The crime?

The guy stole my American flag, walked right up on my front porch, yanked it out of its holder and walked back down Broadway like nothing happened.

Think about that for a second.

He stole a flag, an American flag, during daylight hours with us in the house. Bold. Stupid. Disturbing. How do I know this?

I got it all on video. The reason it came to light now is I didn’t notice the flag was missing until last week. Over the weekend, we checked the security system to see if there was anything on it.

We did a scan through the system and saw that the last time Old Glory was in its proper place was noon, March 23. It was gone at midnight the same day.

We narrowed it down. To be honest, I thought one of my neighbors was yanking my chain. I was waiting to see someone I know walk on the porch, take the flag and move on.

At times, I can be a neighborhood prankster. My neighbor has a couple of concrete Georgia Bulldogs on his stoop. I love to pop in next door and flip them around so all see is a concrete butt.

I was looking forward to telling someone they were busted.

That’s not what I saw. What I saw led me to contact the Columbus Police Burglary and Theft Division. I am not the kind of guy who is going to report the theft of a $25 American flag, but this was different.

First, the way the guy did it. He was in the median, across from our house. He crossed Broadway, stopping in the street and looking both ways. He then walked toward the house, quickly turning and heading south on the sidewalk in front of the house. In the time it would have taken him to walk the length of the house and back, he was on heading toward the steps to the front porch.

I had a couple of bicycles locked down on the porch. I suspect that is what he was after. He peaked around the porch column, appeared to look at the bikes, then he took the flag.

A police detective came out Monday and looked at the video.

He was just as amazed as I was.

Who knows, maybe there is a lead that can help police solve more serious crimes.

Because I know one thing, if you will steal an American flag off the porch of one of the main streets in Columbus in the light of day, you will damn near steal anything.

Chuck Williams, senior editor for content, chwilliams@ledger-enquirer.com.

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