Charlice Byrd, incoming president of the Towne Lake Optimist Club, said Friday morning that she is planning on “insisting” the club press charges after five of the service organization’s flags placed around Woodstock for the Fourth of July holiday were stolen this week.
Three of the large 3-foot by 5-foot flags placed at Hobgood Park were stolen “in broad daylight” Tuesday and another two from the Creekstone area of Woodstock were picked up likely some time Wednesday, Byrd said.
Byrd said the Towne Lake Optimist Club places the flags at homes and businesses around the city as part of their “Avenue of Flags” fundraiser program. Within the fundraiser, businesses and homeowners pay the group $35 a year to install an 8- to 10-foot flag pole on their property and then put up the American flags for six holidays each year: Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Veteran’s Day and President’s Day.
Proceeds from the program, which has more than 500 subscribers, go to fund the club’s projects and programs to benefit children of Cherokee County, Byrd said.
The program has been going for just more than a year, but Byrd said this week’s flag thievery was not the first.
About three months ago, several other flags were stolen around Woodstock, but the group decided against pressing charges after getting an apology from the suspects.
“One gentleman wrote a very long apology letter and was sorry that he had done what he’d done,” Byrd said. “(He) said he was bored and had nothing to do.”
The young man, a high school student, wrote that he thought taking the flags would be “fun,” Byrd said.
Byrd disagrees that stealing American flags is a “fun” activity and said that now they will be pressing charges and hope to “make a statement” against the activity.
“We have to stop this,” she said. “I think there needs to be serious repercussions for someone stealing flags from someone’s home and business if they’re paid for.”
Byrd said she was hopeful that someone may have seen something and might contact the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office, where she has filed a report, with information.
“I would hope that our community would be watching out for our flags and report whatever they see. Someone has to be seeing someone stealing these flags,” she said. “Certainly in broad daylight, when three of them were stolen, someone must see something.”
Byrd said it would be hard to miss someone taking such a large flag, especially considering that the poles are being taken as well.
“They are not small,” she said. “The flag is built onto the pole, so they are coming and taking this 10-foot pole and putting it in their car, and off they go with our flags. When we caught the last perpetrators, (the flags) were actually hanging out of their car.”
Capt. Joe Perkins, spokesman for the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office, said Friday there are “no leads or suspects” in the case.