December 6, 2021

US flags stolen from yard

Cortland veteran replaces 14 flags taken from property overnight

Shenandoah Briere/contributing photographer

Every Independence Day and Memorial Day, David Jones of Tompkins Street in Cortland, a Vietnam-era Air Force veteran, decorates his yard with U.S. flags. This morning, he woke up to find most of them had been stolen during the night.

As David Jones stood this morning on his porch surrounded by the stars and stripes, he recalled waking up to find flags he and his wife had placed Tuesday night gone.

“It was devastating,” he said. “I have no enemies I don’t know who would have done this.”

Jones, who served in the Air Force from 1966 to 1972, has been placing American flags on his lawn for Memorial Day and Independence Day for about four years.

Jones and his wife went out at about 9 p.m. Tuesday and placed 18 small American flags along their lawn at Tompkins and York streets.

When he woke up at 6 a.m. today, all but four flags were gone.

Over the years, he’s had furniture stolen off his porch, his large American flag taken a couple times and one or two small ones here or there. He figured if it was one flag, the person taking it needed it. But not 14 of them.

“I’ve never had this happen before,” he said.

Jones said even though his window was open that night he didn’t hear anyone or any cars.

Cortland police Lt. Michael Strangeway said an officer took the report at 7:07 a.m. and the investigation is ongoing.

Jones said he isn’t looking to prosecute anyone and would leave that decision up to police. The flags cost only a couple dollars each, he added: “It’s the principal.”

“It hurts,” he said. “Being a veteran especially, but it hurts. I can’t believe that somebody would stoop to stealing an American flag.”

Jones had more flags back out on his lawn by 7:30 a.m. after going to Lowes, a home improvement store in Cortlandville, to buy more. He got them for half price.

“I want to specially thank Lowes,” he said. “They are always willing to help a veteran.”

And as Jones talked about the flags and their patriotic symbolism this morning, several people driving by honked or waved.

“It’s for the community,” he said.