Cemeteries are frequently unattended, and thieves take advantage of that to pull out the flag holders then trade them in to recycling businesses for cash.
Stealing the flag holder from a veteran’s grave is becoming a trend.
“That is something that is very revolting to me,” said John Looney, director of The Vet Center in Wheeling. “It’s a place of honor. It’s a family honoring their loved ones they’ve lost.”
Most people say it’s reprehensible.
“But I also understand it’s children, adolescents that want money to buy opiates, and that’s tragic,” said Looney.
Veterans groups give the flag and holder to the family of the fallen soldier.
Lately they’ve been advising them to put them out only for patriotic holidays, and otherwise take them home.
They say some are hit by mowers in the cemetery and accidentally destroyed.
But many are stolen to sell to recycling firms and scrap yards.
John Looney has a suggestion for those businesses.
“I don’t know how much money they make from those little pieces of brass,” he noted. “But I would hope they would say, ‘No, you take this away, I’m not doing business with you.’ “