Hate crime investigation underway in Batavia after multiple Pride flags were stolen
BATAVIA, Ill. - A suburban police department is investigating several theft incidents as hate crimes after multiple residents reported that their Pride flags were stolen overnight.
"We are looking at them as hate crimes, just in the sense that it seems to be targeting a specific group of people," said Sgt. Michelle Langston with the Batavia Police Department.
On Wednesday morning, Batavia police received four separate reports of Pride flags being stolen from homes.
Police said the flags were stolen in the middle of the night, and some residents were left with damage to their property — including broken flag poles and mounts.
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"Typically the charges we are going to be looking at would – at the very least – be criminal damage to property and theft, which are both misdemeanor charges. And the hate crime – we are going to need to look much further into this to determine if that’s actually the case or not," said Langston.
Two incidents were reported in the 500 block of Houston street, one in the 1200 block of Creek Lane and a fourth in the 600 block of Church Street.
Then, on Wednesday afternoon, Sgt. Langston said the police department received a fifth report of theft – this time, the theft of a Black Lives Matter sign in the 500 block of North College Street.
"Batavia is a very welcoming and open community. When we have something like this happen, it doesn’t happen very often, so we do take them very seriously and we want to make sure we investigate as thoroughly as possible," said Langston.
Police are asking for residents to check their home surveillance systems and share any footage they may have of the thefts.
"Given the circumstances of the time frame that it took place in, it’s likely the same person or group of people," said Langston.
Anyone having additional information regarding these incidents or if you are a victim and have not yet reported it, please contact the Batavia Police Department at (630) 454-2500.