American flags disappear from Sanford neighborhood

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SANFORD, Fla. - Someone is targeting veterans who proudly fly their flags outside their homes in a Sanford neighborhood.

Residents called Eyewitness News for help.

An Air Force veteran is the latest victim of the unusual and unpatriotic thefts.

"I fly it 365 days a year," Carl D'Alessandro said.

But these days the only flag D'Alessandro's flying is a small replacement for the full-sized flag someone stole right from the front of his home.

"I have a feeling if I go purchase another one, it might get taken again," D'Alessandro said.

In recent weeks, a half-dozen homes have had their flags stolen. Just like D'Alessandro, almost all the homeowners who lost flags are veterans.

"There are so many veterans that have fought for our country and the flag is what we hold so dear to our hearts," D'Alessandro said.

Just around the corner, and about eight houses down, a house had its flag stolen. The man who lives there put another one up the same day. He says he flies it every day and said he's also a 20-year Navy veteran.

"Just makes me feel very sad that someone would not necessarily deface what we stand for, but take something down that so many people are so proud of," D'Alessandro said.

Homeowners have filed police reports, thinking at first the flag wasn't the target, but the metal poles to be sold for scrap. Then one family had theirs stolen, along with the wooden pole from which it flew.

"If it's for metal maybe more power to 'em, but not the flag," D'Alessandro said.

A neighborhood watch leader told Eyewitness News a salvage truck was spotted in the neighborhood recently with several American flags in the back.

The truck's description was passed along to Sanford police.