Two arrested for trying to sell over 200 stolen bronze flag stands
Two men were arrested for allegedly trying to sell more than 200 bronze flag stands stolen from veterans' grave sites. Our Brandon Walker spoke with the cemetery's superintendent who says he's shocked someone would do such a thing.
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. -- Small American flags sprinkle the landscape at St. Joseph's Cemetery, an iconic of token appreciation as Memorial Day draws near.
Though, all commemoration, sidelined by frustration. Thieves breaking into a hole in a side gate, taking off with more than 200 bronze flag stands. Many belonging to veterans of both World Wars.
"We got a call from Pittsfield Police Department a week ago. They were at a local scrap yard," said Paul Guilliou, superintendent, St. Joseph's Cemetery.
That was last week, says cemetery superintendent Paul Guilliou.
Police say Lyle Parker, 26, of Pittsfield, and Matthew Demastrie, 26, of Pittsfield, tried to sell the bronze flag stands at a scrap metal shop on May 2nd. Police say the store's manager refused to sell the stands after he noticed what they were. He called police, who arrested Parker and Demastrie shortly thereafter.
"Oh, it's a shame. It's unconscionable how someone would steal from the dead, but from the veterans who served our country. Now they're taking stuff from them?"
Police returned the bronze stands to St. Joseph’s, many of them had been broken apart. The stands aren't labeled, and as such, it's close to impossible to identify to which graves they were assigned. For now, they are stored in buckets in a garage.
"We have been able to replace what we know that were here, but it's going to be an ongoing process," Guilliou said.
Police say the flag stands had a scrap value of $900, but were actually worth more than $6,000.
And while they've been returned, the cemetery hasn't the tools to weld most of the stand back together.
"We're either looking for someone to help us out to be able to repair them or they'll be scrap. Not usable," Guilliou said.
The two suspects face charges of attempting to sell stolen material.