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Flags stolen in DL, VFW to the rescue

Three flags were stolen from this pole on Sherman Street by the Detroit Lakes High School, and one more American flag was stolen down the street.

Detroit Lakes police are puzzled over reports of flag-snatching in town.

"I think we've reached a new low," said Detroit Lakes Police Chief Kel Keena.

On Sunday, two residents living a block apart on Sherman Street by the high school, reported their flags being stolen off from their yards.

"At around 10 or 11 the night before, I heard a big bang, but I just thought it was the storm coming," said Jason Solmon, who said he had an American flag, a Minnesota flag and an Army National Guard flag swiped from his flagpole -- nothing else.

Solmon says the same thing happened to him last November, but has no idea who the culprit is.

"It's annoying that people can't have respect for other people's things," Solmon said.

Keena says the second report came just down the block from residents who had their American flag stolen as well.

"We haven't had any graffiti with statements or anything like that, so I suspect it's probably just a case of impulse behavior and stupidity," Keena said.

Members of the Detroit Lakes VFW are doing their best to overshadow that stupidity, as they vow to replace any flags stolen in this manner.

"We like to see that flag flying," said Iraq war veteran and VFW member Justin Knoff, "and as long as somebody wants to show their patriotism, we're going to do what we can to help them."

Knoff says he can't imagine why somebody would want to steal flags, but suspects it has nothing to do with its monetary value.

"I don't know if it's somebody with an agenda or somebody just trying to cause havoc, but until we run out of American flags, we'll continue to replace them ... hopefully it doesn't continue, though."

It likely won't continue happening to Solmon.

The 28-year old says he'll now be taking his flags down every night and putting them back up in the morning.

"I also ordered a surveillance system that should be here in the next couple of weeks," Solmon said.

If the flag thieves are caught, Keena said the misdemeanor theft charge could bring them 90 days in jail and a $700 fine.

"You know, we've had Christmas decorations and Christmas trees cut out of people's yards," said Keena, "but this is pretty disgraceful."