Flags and ceramic poppies on display at the World War I monument in Riverhead in 2022. File photo: Denise Civiletti

Riverhead Police are investigating the theft of U.S. flags and other flags on display at various locations around town the past few days.

Police have a suspect in custody, Police Chief David Hegermiller said this afternoon.

Investigators have confirmed the theft of flags from Eagle Chevrolet, Laundry Palace and the Town of Riverhead Municipal Garage, all on Route 58, as well as the flags that fly over the World War I Memorial on the corner of Court and West Main streets, the chief said. Police are working to confirm a reported theft of flags at Tanger Outlets, Hegermiller said.

So far, all flags known to have gone missing have been recovered, the chief said.

Details about the dates and times of the flag disappearances are still being developed, the chief said.

Suffolk County Historical Society Executive Director Victoria Berger said someone cut down and made off with all the flags on display at the World War I monument, which is located on edge of the museum’s lawn. She said she believes the theft occurred on Monday, Memorial Day.

“At some point in the day, it appears that someone came on our grounds and stripped our entire flag pole of its American Flag, military flags, and rigging cord,” Berger said.

The flags were in place at the time of the Memorial Day ceremonies at the monument. The flags flying at the monument include the Stars and Stripes, the POW/MIA flag, the Town of Riverhead flag, and a flag for each branch of the military.

The display of ceramic poppies created by Riverhead High School ceramics classes, which has been in place for Memorial Day at the World War I monument since 2021, was not disturbed, ceramics teacher Serena Pagliarulo said today.

So far, the suspect, who has not yet been formally charged, is facing at least one count of criminal possession of stolen property, the chief said.

The investigation is ongoing. Police ask anyone with information to contact the Riverhead Police Department at 631-727-4500.

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Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.