A large American flag was stolen from the Dairymen's Feed & Supply building Monday night, the latest in a series of thefts and vandalism that have occurred at the Petaluma’s iconic landmark.
The flag, valued at $500, had been suspended to a pole on the roof of the building at 323 E. Washington St. and is believed to have been taken between Monday night and Tuesday morning.
Police believe teenagers who sometimes hang out in the area are behind the theft and say they likely used a stairwell to gain access to the 100-foot tall building.
“It’s extremely dangerous and sooner or later somebody is bound to get hurt,” said Lt. Dave Sears of the Petaluma Police Department.
Once on the roof, the suspect or suspects removed the flag by cutting it by the metal eyelets, which were attached to a rope. The incident is not the first time vandals have gained access to the building, with someone stealing the flag this spring and last year. Last July, thieves broke into an equipment shed and took several thousand dollars worth of items.
Arnie Riebli, the owner of the the grain storage facility, said he has tried everything to keep people out, including putting up security cameras and adding razor wiring to the fence. The thieves just responded by punching out the camera lenses and finding a way to scale the fence.
“What are we becoming as a society when this crap keeps happening?” Riebli said. “It’s frustrating and it’s disappointing that they would do this… They didn’t just take the flag, but they cut it. Maybe the way to deal with it is not put up the flag at all, but that would be a real shame.”
Anyone with information about the theft and vandalism is being asked to call the Petaluma Police Department at 707-778-4372.