A teenager stole an American flag from a Pacific, Missouri business and now his small crime has turned into an interesting punishment.
On Thursday, Bill Hoaglin, a military vet and owner of Beacon Car & Pet Wash, realized one of his three American flags he hangs outside his garages was missing. He then took a look at his surveillance video and saw a young man nonchalantly grab his flag and ride away with it.
Not desiring to let the culprit get away scot-free Hoaglin posted the video to Facebook hoping someone would identify the thief.
“I got quite a few anonymous tips,” he told Yahoo Lifestyle.
The thief was found to be 19-year-old Keaton Chandler, who claims he wanted to use the flag as a decoration in his bedroom.
Chandler called Hoaglin after he saw the video and confessed.
“He said, ‘I am the guy who accidentally stole your flag,’” Hoaglin said. “I said, ‘There’s nothing accidental about stealing.”
As Yahoo Lifestyle reports:
Hoaglin says Chandler offered to return the flag if the business owner removed the Facebook footage. But as a former police officer of 18 years who specialized in community issues, Hoaglin offered Chandler a deal: Return the flag and avoid criminal charges by carrying out a symbolic punishment.
“I sent my daughter to Walmart to purchase more than 150 miniature American flags for Keaton to pass out to customers,” Hoaglin explained.
Hoaglin’s point in this “punishment” was to teach the teen that “the flag is more than just a decoration.” As a veteran he hoped to teach him “it means more than that.”
Chandler’s advice to anyone thinking of taking an American flag that doesn’t belong to them: “I made a mistake… don’t steal flags kids.”
The 19-year-old passed out all the flags during his “shift” at the car/pet wash and had a bunch of people thank him for doing so.