Flag bandit steals Old Glory from military family

Posted: Updated:
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

CHANDLER , Ariz. -- A man from Chandler flies the American and Army flags in honor of his son who has fought in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He was furious and confused when someone stole those flags right off the pole in his front yard.

A lonely white flag pole topped with a golden eagle stabbed at the flawlessly blue desert sky in John Lay’s front yard Wednesday.  Normally the eagle stands guard over Old Glory and the Army flag, but earlier this week Lay came out to wash his car and noticed the flag rope flapping in the wind. His flags had been stolen.

“I kind of wonder why a person like that even wants to live in our country.  As far as I’m concerned they don't even belong here,” Lay said. “You should not have the right to disgrace our flag. There's too many people that have lived and died for it.”

Lay knows about sacrifice for the flag because his family is full of war veterans. His son, Staff Sgt. Brian Lay, did tours of duty in Iraq, South Korea and Afghanistan.

“When he came back from Afghanistan he had the Bronze Star so that ought to tell you the kind of soldier he is,” Lay. said

Somebody stealing the flag this proud father flies in honor of his son really doesn't sit right.

“I kind of thought that a person like that should be dead. I really do. I don't think people like that have a place in our society,” Lay said of whomever stole his flags.

Lay spent $80 on new flags to run up the pole.  Despite the risk of the flag bandits coming back, Lay said the pole his father bought decades ago will always hoist the Stars and Stripes.

“He flew the flag on [this pole] until he died.  We moved it over to my father-in-law's and he flew it until he died. And now I've got it until, well, oh geez, I die.”

Lay said he called the police to report the crime and they told him a man in Mesa also recently had American and Marine flags stolen. Lay had no clue if that flag bandit is the same bad guy or if it's just a coincidence.