Ring security video at a Scripps Ranch home shows at least two people stealing a Pride flag recently and running away laughing before quickly driving off.
“They made a conscious decision to say, ‘Hey, these don’t belong in our community and we’re going to remove them,’ ” Scripps Ranch resident Jeremy Dutson told NBC 7 on Monday.
Dutson has lived in the neighborhood for about five years. Up till now, he was apprehensive about displaying a Pride flag. This year was the first time he’d put it up outside of his home.
The video of the theft was recorded around 10:20 p.m. last Tuesday night. The thieves also made off with a Black Lives Matter sign.
“To me, when someone comes on to your property and steals something, it kind of felt like they were taking something more than just a Pride flag," Dutson said. "It was kind of like a 'maybe you don’t belong here' type of thing, and that made me sad,” Dutson said.
As it turns out, the theft wasn’t an isolated incident. The night before, someone stole a small "Love Wins" flag in front of Sabrina Chapman’s home, which is just a few houses away from Dutson's.
“I was surprised," Chapman said. "I certainly felt a bit violated -- that somebody would take something that was really meant to spread kindness, love and support."
Meanwhile, other Scripps Ranch residents posted about other similar incidents on social media. In all, it appears there may have been at least five separate thefts of Pride flags or Black Lives Matters signs last week.
“Kind of sad this happened in such a wonderful community,” wrote one resident, who added that the person responsible bent a flagpole while stealing a Pride flag.
“Our BLM sign was stolen a few days,” wrote another resident.
“Someone took our two Pride flags last night,” wrote another resident. "I put two more up today."
For Chapman and Dutson, one of their biggest concerns is that the thieves shown in the security video appear to be young adults.
“Even though we are drawing attention to people who made a bad choice and stole something for whatever reason they did, I feel it’s important to continue to speak out so that somehow there’s discussions about why, why this flag is there, why we celebrate Pride month,” said Chapman, who filed a police report on the theft.
“I don’t think we should spend a lot of time trying to find these people," Dutson said. "It’s about engaging people. It’s about doing things like this to show the community that we’re just normal people living next to you."