Investigation into missing flags begins

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HANOVER TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — There’s a mystery of missing flags around Luzerne County. It started with a couple of stolen flags in Hanover Township.

The staff at Hanover Area High School showed up Thursday and discovered the flag pole was missing its American flag as well as a POW/MIA flag. Surveillance cameras captured the thieves in action as it occurred Wednesday night. At one point one of the suspects throws a flag on the ground.

The crime did not stop at the high school. Investigators are trying to determine if it’s connected to a flag theft Wednesday night at “The Land at Firemen’s Park” in nearby Ashley and at a fire department. Those at the Hanover Township Fire Department say they are heartbroken after learning their flags were also stolen.

“It’s heartbreaking, it’s aggravating,” Chief Joe Temarantz said.

Thursday morning, Temarantz discovered the Hanover Fire headquarters was the third target of a late night crime spree.

“The American flag was taken, which was a larger American flag that we fly and below that was a red and black fire department flag that we hand in memorium of some past members. We’ve had two members pass away in the past two months,” Temarantz said.

Hanover Township firefighters say they used a rope to hang the flags, and it appears the thieves cut through it to take the flags down. The same night, surveillance footage caught suspects stealing flags from the high school and the Ashley Firemen’s memorial.

But at the fire department, Temarantz says their cameras weren’t pointing at the flagpole. 38 years of service — he never expected this.

“We’re here to protect people and unfortunately someone took advantage of that,” Temarantz said.

News of the suspected flag thieves did not sit well with the community.

“It’s unfortunate that somebody or an entity that we respect and helps our community is now the target of vandalism. Its uncalled for,” Todd Hevner of Nanticoke said.

Especially those who fought for the flag.

“I guarded B52 Bombers and SR71s and that’s nothing to be spiteful of. I did all that and they’re going to be stealing flags, I don’t agree with that,” William Pugh, a veteran from Hanover, said.

Temarantz says they’ll continue to fly the flag and serve the community regardless.

“Justice will prevail, trust me,” Temarantz said.

The case is under investigation by the Hanover Police Department. The fire chief says they already ordered a new American flag to replace the temporary one, but the firefighter’s flag honoring fallen members may be tougher to replace.

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