Archive for Wednesday, October 24, 2001

Thieves target U.S. flags

Several incidents reported to Tonganoxie police

October 24, 2001

The last thing Bob and Jerri Cooper needed that day was to discover that someone had stolen their two American flags.

For the previous five days, since learning the results of a CT scan, Jerri Cooper had thought she had a recurrence of renal cancer, this time in her remaining kidney. Six years ago, she lost a kidney to cancer. But a second examination on Oct. 8 showed otherwise. The Coopers came exhausted, but in good spirits, knowing another cancer scare was gone.

And then they noticed that while they had been gone, their two flags and flagpoles had been removed from the holders on each side of their driveway fence.

In the scheme of things, it's a small matter, they said, two stolen flags vs. matters of life and death. But flags have deep meaning for the Coopers. Bob Cooper lost two brothers to wars, one in Korea and one in Vietnam. Another brother fought in World War II, and son, Bob Cooper Jr., was sent to Desert Storm.

"I just don't understand," said Bob Cooper, who is a chaplain at Open Door Bible Baptist Church in Kansas City, Kan. "It's not patriotic. God's law says you don't steal. Man's law says you don't steal, so really they're wrong whatever world they're living in."

Jerri Cooper says they can't afford now to buy new flags. She has worked at Payless Cashways for eight years and with the company's stores closing, she soon will be out of a job.

"It would be nice if someone would have a pang of conscience and bring the flags back," she said. "But I doubt that will happen."

The Coopers are not the only people in Tonganoxie whose American flags have been stolen. Mike Vestal, Tonganoxie police dispatcher, said a flag was stolen from his vehicle during a recent morning when his wife was working at the elementary school.

"They just unscrewed the antenna off the car," he said. "Unbelievable all they needed to do was pull the flag off but they unscrewed the antenna and took off with it. It's pretty bad."

A bright new flag flies from the flagpole west of B&J Amoco. But manager Terry Chop said there was nothing wrong with the old flag which was stolen on a recent Friday night. This is the first time a flag has been stolen from B&J, she said.

"They cut the rope and took it off," Chop said.

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