GILBERT, Ariz. - One Gilbert family is devastated after an American flag and a Blue Lives Matter flag was stolen right from their property earlier in the week, all during a difficult time for the family.
The incident was captured on surveillance camera, with the video showing a person walking up to the front of the home. Covered with a mask and hat, the suspect walked up to the gate, ripped off the “Thin Blue Line” flag before running away.
Shortly after, another person ran over to remove the American flag.
"They wanted to make a statement, but the statement wasn’t theirs to make," said Joanie Whitfield. "We were trying to memorialize my brother, and kind of show that we remember him and that we love him, we respect him and we’re thankful for his service as a police officer."
Whitfield’s brother was a Mesa Police officer who died nine years ago on Sept. 18 from ALS. To honor him, Whitfield's mother puts out both flags around the anniversary of his passing.
The family woke up on the morning of Sept. 16 to find the flags gone.
“There's consequences for things like this," said Whitfield. "There are consequences for destroying people’s property, and you know, we have the Freedom of Speech to put things up on our property, and you don’t have the right to tear it down."
After they shared what had happened on Facebook, people came together to help. Family friends came over to replace the flags, and a stranger even left them a gift with a note attached, which reads:
"We are deeply sorry for your loss. I didn’t know him, but he was an officer and that’s enough to have my support and respect, and just wanted to pay it forward with this flag. Have a great day."
Anyone with information should contact Gilbert Police.