Belen Fire Department Flag

The American flag at the Belen Fire Department has been replaced after it and several others around town were stolen from flag poles. 

BELEN—Someone in Belen has been stealing and throwing American flags on the ground at several different locations. 

Belen Police Chief Victor Rodriguez said over the past couple of days, someone has been removing flags from flag poles, and leaving them on the ground in different areas.

Flags have been stolen from the Chavez-Curran VFW Post 2387, the Belen Fire Department and the Motor Vehicle Division building on Fifth Street, the 9/11 Memorial Park, the U.S. Post Office and the Belen Schools administrative building on Main Street, and at Anna Becker Park on Reinken Avenue. Several of the flags were found on the ground at the park.

Charles Cox, the commander of the VFW post, was very upset about the incidents.

“This is something you don’t do — you don’t mess with our flag, our building and our country,” Cox said.

Belen Fire Chief Bret Ruff, who served in the Air Force for 26 years, said the flags found on the ground will be destroyed in a dignified fashion.

“This is very disrespectful on a personal level,” said Ruff, who served in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and UAE. “These veterans and active military members give their life to defend the flag. What ever reason they may have — whether they’re upset at our country or politics — this is highly disrespectful.

“The flag is a symbol of our freedom, and if they have discontent, they should show it in another way, but leave the flag alone.”

Rodriguez feels the same way.

“Not only is this a crime, it’s very disrespectful leaving the American flag in the ground,” the police chief said.

A witness did report to police they saw someone Tuesday night at Anna Becker Park, and gave a description of the man as being Hispanic, heavy set with a salt and pepper beard.

If caught, the person who is responsible could be facing charges of larceny and trespassing.

If anyone has information about this crime, call the Belen Police Department at 966-2680, or the Valencia Regional Emergency Communications Center (dispatch) at 865-2039.

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