Woodchucks taking flags from local cemetery

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Last week residents in Adams, MA were outraged after finding several flags missing from veterans’ graves at Bellevue Cemetery.

They spent days trying to figure out who stole them, but now they think they found the culprit, who buried themselves in a big hole.

Mark Paquette was watering flowers at Bellevue as he does often, when he couldn’t believe what he saw.

“It was just flag poles on the ground broken,” Mark said.

He found flags missing from all of the veterans’ graves at the bottom of a hill, with poles left in their holders or broken on the ground.

“Who would do something like this? And what would they be doing with the flags?” Mark said “I was concerned that it was vandalism.”

A Vietnam veteran himself, he was upset, and reported it to workers on the grounds who replaced them.

But a few days later he came back to find them gone again – this time all over the cemetery.

“I walked up on the top of the hill here and I saw every one was broken and down,” Mark said.

He couldn’t understand why it kept happening, and his wife Charmaine couldn’t either.

“We were taught you don’t even walk on graves, never mind steal the flags from veterans,” Charmaine said.

They reported it to police, and spread the word on social media.
   
“Right away there was a response. People coming up to help,” Mark said.

Along the way, Mark came across some clues about the culprit, who wasn’t that good at covering its tracks.

He found a hole, surrounded by dirt, flowers, pieces of the flag and even a vase, and then another one down the hill.

A community member also remembered a story about woodchucks stealing flags from a cemetery in Hudson back in 2012.

“Things started coming together. You know you start thinking, you’re like at first your like, could it really be?” Charmaine said.

On Tuesday they finally solved the mystery, after a woman saw one with her own eyes.

“They saw the woodchuck jump up on a flag and pull it right out of the holder,” Mark said.

The Paquettes couldn’t have felt more relieved.
 
“Hope they had their babies. They don’t need anymore flags. They’ll leave us alone,” Charmaine said.

They’re thankful it wasn’t a cruel act of vandalism.

“I’m glad to see that the veterans are respected the way they are,” Mark said.

So far the Paquettes haven’t seen any flags missing the past few days and they’re hoping it stays that way.

 

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