Six flags were stolen late Wednesday or early Thursday from the monuments along the Heroes Walk, located on the waterfront at the Erie & Buffalo County Naval and Military Park.
“I couldn’t believe somebody would stoop so low to do this,” said Patrick J. Cunningham, executive director of the park. “The whole staff is just kind of down in the dumps about the whole concept that somebody would come in and just maliciously, and I think it probably was malicious, do this to the park.”
The flags are worth approximately $1,000, he said. They included a Marine Corps flag and U.S. flag at the Marine Corps Monument, a U.S. flag and a Korean flag at the Korean War Monument and a POW flag and U.S. flag from the Vietnam War Monument.
The last group of visitors at the park left at about 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, Cunningham said.
At 6:30 a.m. Thursday, staff noticed the flags were missing.
Cunningham said nothing like this has happened in his 21 years at the Naval Park.
To steal the flags, the thief had to lower each flag from its pole and unsnap the hooks that connect the flag to the pole.
It would probably take about three to four minutes to take down each flag, Cunningham said.
Cunningham said the park planned to buy new flags immediately, but County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz announced late Thursday afternoon that he will join Fran McLaughlin, director of the Erie County Veterans Service Agency, at a ceremony at 9:30 a.m. today to present replacements.
The park usually has to replace its flags about once a year due to weather.