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Deputies seek help in catching American flag thief in Gainesville
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Summer Creek Drive home owner Matthew Youngelman recently had his U.S. flag stolen. - photo by SCOTT ROGERS / Gainesville Times

The American flag has been flying in front of Matthew Youngelman’s home since he moved to Summer Creek Estates off Lee Land Road.

On Thanksgiving morning, however, he woke up to discover his flag missing.

“We noticed that our neighborhood was ravaged of all the flags that were on their porches,” Youngelman said, adding that a large number of people in the community fly the flag.

The Hall County Sheriff’s Office has received two reports so far for the subdivision, with one neighbor submitting surveillance footage from his front porch.

“The perpetrator is apparently hard to identify,” Sheriff’s Office Deputy Stephen Wilbanks wrote in an email. “(Because) he was so close to the camera, the image isn't clear.”

The surveillance is from before 5 a.m. on Thanksgiving. The Sheriff’s Office is asking anyone who may know who the person is to call the Criminal Investigations Division at 770-531-6879 and ask for Investigator Doug Matthews, or you can remain anonymous by calling the tip line at 770-503-3232.

In the neighborhood on Monday, only the flags positioned high up on the subdivision’s homes remained. One neighbor, Youngelman said, brought the flag in because of wind conditions and put it back out.

Youngelman said the neighborhood is not a high-traffic area, and he has heard before from other neighbors about flag theft.

“It’s just a really awkward feeling to steal our patriotism,” he said.