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AUSTIN EDITION New flag stolen within days

By Roxana Orellana

rorellana@postbulletin.com

What Jeff Hovland discovered Friday morning as he arrived at his family business is what he describes as "an out-of-control spiraling of our society."

The 12-foot by 18-foot U.S. flag had been stolen from the 30-foot pole in front of Sportts Restaurant and Lounge at 3301 W. Oakland Ave. in Austin.

"I don't know why you would do it," Hovland said. "What do you get from stealing it? I don't even know what you would do with it because it's a huge flag. Why do it?"

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The large flag went up on the newly revamped flag pole in front of the business on Monday.

With the festive season and the recent refurbishing of the business, the family decided to invest in replacing the flag. So to spread the cheer, the owners added the red, white and blue theme to the restaurant facade, which included the flag.

"We thought it would be a good thing for the Fourth of July and the town's anniversary," Hovland said. "We wanted everything ready for all of it, and then somebody comes and does that."

Hovland arrived at work Friday morning to find everything ripped off the pole. The theft reportedly happened between 11:30 p.m. Thursday and 5 a.m. Friday.

The family has owned the restaurant since 1989. A flag was stolen one other time, about four years ago.

Hovland said the latest incident had to be something well thought out because the steel pulley system is about 9 feet off the ground.

The flag flies 20 to 30 feet high. Aside from the monetary loss, Hovland said, it's depressing to have someone steal a symbolic item.

"I want the flag back," Hovland said. "(Whoever took it) can set it by the back door (of the restaurant), and we'll call it a day."

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