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WOODSTOCK, Ga. -- The U.S. flag is a staple along roadsides in Cherokee County. On holidays, even more so.

This year, the Towne Lake Optimists Club distributed five-foot flags on10-foot aluminum poles as part of a fundraiser. "Every penny that we derive from the fundraiser goes to the children," said Matt Halloran, president of the organization, which participates in numerous programs benefiting children.

Labor Day weekend, thieves plundered the fundraiser -- house by house in some cases. "Labor Day weekend, we lost12 to 15 flags," said Halloran. Cherokee Sheriff's office investigators say it was the work of thieves. "Ten-foot poles with an American flag attached to it. That's what we're looking for," said Lt. Jay Baker.

The Optimists Club had delivered flags which they planted into pipes previously bored into the yards of participating Cherokee County residents. It eased distribution of the flags. It also made their removal just as easy.

The thefts were "over a wide range of area, so it's possible more than one person is involved," Baker said.

For investigators, the question is who -- and why. Baker says the motive is not likely to be re-sale of the stolen flags. "You can buy 'em at Walmart," he said.

"Whoever stole the U.S. flag has got to hate America," said Halloran. "And the children that it supports."

So investigators in Cherokee County have a mystery to solve. They're looking for a stash of stolen flags, and10-foot flagpoles that may still be attached.

And they're looking for thieves who lack respect for more than just the law.

Anybody with any information that can help solves these crimes is asked to call the Cherokee Sheriff's Office at 770.928.0239.

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