School closings and delays

Mentor police officer replaces Army veteran’s stolen American flag

MENTOR, Ohio - A Mentor police officer stepped up to help after American flags were stolen from a neighborhood.

Keith Ludwig said his flag was stolen from a fence outside his Independence Drive condominium Thursday.

“I was surprised. I was like, ‘how could you take somebody's flag?’” Ludwig said.

The U.S. Army veteran said he considers the flag an important symbol of freedom and those who fight for it.

“To me it's totally uncalled for,” he said. “I just don't think it's right.”

About seven residents of the Independence Place condominiums reported their flags were stolen since July 4th.

Dave Wolf said a new American flag he had put up and an Indians flag were stolen on the holiday.

“We're celebrating the Fourth of July, our birthday, and why would you have to ruin that for somebody else?” Wolf said.

Mentor Police Officer Rick Smith responded to Ludwig’s residence to take a report Thursday night.

Ludwig said Ptl. Smith returned a short time later with a new flag he purchased, then put the flag up in the rain.

“Officer Smith said ‘every veteran deserves a flag on his house,’” Ludwig said. “It was just a really nice thing for him, representing the Mentor Police Department, to do for us.”

The gesture came amid a challenging couple of weeks for the Mentor Police Department following the death of Ptl. Mathew Mazany in the line of duty.

Lt. Dan Molnar said the department deeply appreciates the community’s support, and this was one way an officer gave back.

“It's really been overwhelming,” Lt. Molnar said. “The community has stepped up…and if this is an opportunity that Officer Smith can give back and go above and beyond to help a veteran out, it's awesome.”

Molnar said Mentor police are stepping up patrols in the neighborhood as a result of the flag thefts.