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Thornton Vandals Deface American Flag That Flew In Afghanistan

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THORNTON, Colo. (CBS4) – Several homes in a Thornton neighborhood were sprayed with graffiti early Saturday morning, and one resident said the vandals ruined a piece of history.

Vandals spray-painted garage doors, fences, public parks and vehicles in the Northbrook neighborhood near 136th Avenue and Holly Street.

Trace Searls show his vandalized American flag to CBS4's Lauren DiSpirito (credit: CBS)

Trace Searls show his vandalized American flag to CBS4′s Lauren DiSpirito (credit: CBS)

“I got really sad, to tell you the truth. It’s just sad that somebody would do that,” vandalism victim Trace Searls said.

The American flag Searls chose to fly outside his Thornton home to celebrate the Fourth of July is now covered in graffiti. It’s a flag with special meaning, having flown over Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom on Sept. 11, 2007.

“This flag is a piece of history, this flag was there with our troops,” he said.

The flag now has was appears to be an “anarchist” symbol spray-painted on it. The flag that was a gift from his brother.

“We didn’t hear anything, they must have been pretty quiet with whatever they were doing out here,” vandalism victim Julie Kennison said.

Thornton police say they’re now investigating more than 30 reports of damage to more than 100 items, and nobody seems to have caught the vandals in the act.

“There can be various isolated incidents, but to have something of this magnitude occur is highly unusual in the area,” Sgt. Matt Kandt Thornton police said.

“I think everybody’s kind of looking out now, going, ‘What else?’ ” vandalism victim Venessa Tubaya said.

As people try to clean up, or at least cover up the damage, Searls plans to re-hang his American flag to send a message to whomever tried to destroy it.

“That the flag can still fly even in the face of somebody trying to deface it,” Searls said.

School district officials say the vandals also hit Horizon High School, causing more than $1,000 in damage. Police hope surveillance video from outside the school points to whomever is responsible.

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