American flags stolen from Navy veteran's Fourth of July display

American flags stolen from Navy veteran's Fourth of July display
Published: Jul. 2, 2018 at 7:09 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 2, 2018 at 8:45 PM EDT
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A neighbor captured the theft on camera Thursday night showing a person hop out of a car and...
A neighbor captured the theft on camera Thursday night showing a person hop out of a car and take the flags before speeding off in the car (Source: Tony Castelvecchi)

MECHANICSVILLE, VA (WWBT) - A Mechanicsville neighborhood is coming together for a Navy veteran after several people reportedly stole American Flags from a display at the man's home.

Tony Castelvecchi's home surveillance camera captured the theft on video from George Woods Sr.'s yard late Thursday night.

"A car came down the street, turned around and stopped right by George's house," Castelvecchi said. "They turned off the lights, the passengers jumped out, grabbed some flags, jumped back in, turned the lights on again and took off down the street again."

Castelvecchi, a Marine and veteran himself, said he was appalled when he saw the video.

"It's always disheartening when someone does something like that," he said. "I don't think it was a personal attack, I just think it was hooligan kids."

Castelvecchi has lived next to Woods, the Navy veteran of 20 years, for several years and knows the kind of pride Woods takes in his display.

"He works hard to make the neighborhood look good," Castelvecchi said. "People don't know George personally, but they drive down the street, they stop here and see the flags and there's always a smile on people's face."

Woods lines the yard around his home with small American Flags every Memorial Day, Veterans Day,  Fourth of July, and Labor Day.

"I'm very patriotic!"

Woods said this is not the first time someone has stolen flags from his yard.

"Six or eight years ago someone stole one or two of them," he said. "Then this past week someone stole three or four of them."

While the number may be insignificant, neighbors said the time Woods puts into the display is inspiring yet tedious.

"He's out there with his walker planting a couple of flags, then takes a break," Castelvecchi said.

Because of Woods's commitment and desire to show his patriotism, Castelvecchi posted the video of the theft to social media in hopes those responsible would take accountability.

"Returning the flags would be one thing," Castelvecchi said. "But having to sit down and talk to him, or going to the VFW and really understanding what kind of pride comes with the flag, with what George does all the time, that's what I really want to see."

"Apparently, they haven't been educated," Woods said. "I hope they read a history book, about all the guys who have died under the flag."

Following Castelvecchi's social media post, many people in the neighborhood have dropped off flags, or placed them in Woods's lawn.

"I opened up the front door the other day and there were five flags by the front door," Woods said. "I've got great neighbors."

"Multiple times now I've seen neighbors coming out and placing flags out there," Castelvecchi said.

Despite the most recent theft, Woods said he will continue to put up his flag display in the future.

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