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Flags disappearing from Morris parks

City officials vow to prosecute if thieves can be identified

Morris Police Department and American flags are being stolen from parks around the city and officials say enough is enough.

“It’s disappointing. These are used to honor our fallen officers and to identify the memorial park,” Chief Brent Dite said.

In May, it was discovered that a Morris Police Department flag was stolen from the Police Memorial at Chapin Park. This caused the police to look at other city parks for missing flags and it was discovered United States flags also were taken from Goodwill and Goold parks.

In addition, at Goodwill, two Dairy Queen advertisement banners were stolen from the baseball fields, Dite said.

More than two months later, another Morris police flag was taken from Chapin Park.

“We hope that if a parent or friend sees a Morris police flag in a basement or bedroom, they would know that is wrong and tell us,” Dite said.

The city has spent hundreds of dollars replacing the flags.

“The bottom line is we replace enough flags at the parks due to wear and tear because of the weather. We don’t need people stealing them,” Mayor Richard Kopczick said.

“It’s a waste of the taxpayers’ money,” he continued. “If we catch them, we will prosecute them to the full extent of the law.”

Dite said there is little evidence to help the police find who is committing the crimes, and said he is not sure if it is one person or kids copying each other.

Some of the first stolen flags were cut down and the others just untied.

To prevent the city from losing any more of the specially designed police department flags, the public works employees will make sure the part of the flag ropes that secure the flags in place will be out of reach and require the use of a ladder to remove.

American Legion Post 294 Commander Ken Buck said the crimes are disappointing because of the meaning of the flags to our local veterans.

“Men and women have died defending the ideas the flag stands for,” Buck said.

“The flag represents democracy and freedom. It’s something we should try to give the utmost respect that we can.”

Those with information on the missing flags are asked to call the Crime Stoppers line at (815) 942-9667.

Telephone callers may remain anonymous and reward money is offered for information leading to an arrest.

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