Nine flags, including those representing the United States, Maryland and the military, were stolen from public sites in Middletown early Sunday morning, town officials said.
Now, the outraged town is offering a $1,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest and conviction in the case.
The flags — representing the five branches of the U.S. military, as well as Prisoners of War/Missing in Action — were stolen from the Middletown War Memorial on the corner of Franklin Street and Md. 17, Town Administrator Andrew Bowen said.
The U.S., Maryland and Middletown flags were also stolen from the nearby Middletown War Memorial Park.
“In addition to stealing the flags [the suspects], also cut some of the ropes [on the flag poles] that raise the flags,” Bowen said. “It’s very frustrating.”
Middletown Burgess John Miller and the town’s five commissioners announced their plans to offer the reward Tuesday.
The Frederick County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the incident, Bowen said.
“We have really no idea who could have done that,” he said. “Vandalism is bad to begin with but doing something like this against the people who serve our country is even worse.”
With the help of a $1,500-donation from the Middletown chapter of AMVETS, the town last year added seven flags and flag poles to the memorial, including the six flags that were stolen from that location.
Originally, the U.S. flag was the only one at the memorial, Bowen said.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held to celebrate the new flags at the town’s Veterans Day ceremony last year.
“[Whoever did this] ought to be very much ashamed of themselves,” said Ed Dowling, commander of AMVETS Post 9 in Middletown.
Along with the flags, the memorial, which was first erected in 1947, includes bronze plaques with the names of more than 260 residents who served in World War I and World War II engraved on it.
Plans are under way to add plaques to the memorial for conflicts after World War, including the Korean and Vietnam wars, Operation Desert Storm, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Dowling said.
Bowen said it could cost up to $1,000 to repair the damage to the flag poles and replace the stolen flags.
“It’s not so much about the money as what [this incident] represents,” he said.
As part of their contribution to the memorial, AMVETS had pledged previously to replace the flags at the memorial each season. The group will now just replace them earlier than expected, Dowling said.
“We would just appreciate everybody in the area keeping an eye on the flags,” he said. “And we hope [the police] catch whoever did this and teach them a little bit about patriotism.”