SAUGUS (WBZ) ― Nearly 500 flag holders have been stolen from the graves of veterans at the Riverside Cemetery in Saugus.
The thieves stole the aluminum flag holders and then placed the flags back into the ground, making it harder to notice that anything was taken.
The flags are a token of thanks from the town, meant to honor veterans, fire fighters and police officers.
Earlier this week, two Town Hall employees out for an early morning walk spotted two men in their 30s putting objects into the trunk of a white Toyota Camery, Town Manager Andrew Bisignani said. But when they realized they were being watched, they got in the car and drove off. The men were described as wearing hooded sweatshirts.
Police Suspect Scrap Metal As Motive
"It's very upsetting and emotional to see where someone would desecrate graves and take markers for profit," Bisignani said.
It is believed that the thieves stole the flag sleeves to sell as scrap metal.
"We have an economy forcing people to make choices they wouldn't normally make," said Saugus police Lt. Leonard Campanello.
Theft Estimated At $10,000
Cemetery Superintendent John Falasca, whose grandfather's flag holder was stolen, estimates there were around 500 flag sleeves missing.
"It's just ridiculous that people could stoop that low," he said.
Falasca said each flag sleeve costs about $20, which means that there could be a $10,000 tab to replace all of the ones that were stolen.