By Doug Ireland
---- — DERRY — Police said last week they expect to make an arrest soon in the theft of a flag collection box from the town transfer station.
The 3-foot steel box, refurbished by students in the Pinkerton Academy Junior ROTC program, disappeared only a week after it was installed at the transfer station Nov. 22.
Derry police Capt. Vern Thomas said his department is preparing an arrest warrant, but could not say when the suspect would be apprehended.
Thomas did not say why the investigation has taken more than a month after the theft was recorded by a transfer station surveillance camera.
The box, estimated to weigh more than 200 pounds, was recovered Dec. 9, e said. It was damaged. Thomas said he could not say where the red, white and blue box was found.
The students and transfer station officials have been wondering why anyone would steal the box, designed to collect worn American flags for proper disposal.
“The thing I can’t understand is why,” town recycling coordinator Joanie Cornetta said. “Why would anyone take it?”
Lt. Col. Howie Steadman, the JROTC adviser, agreed.
Steadman said the students, pleased they were doing a good deed for the community, were disappointed to hear of the theft. They were happy to learn the box was recovered, he said.
Installing the former postal box at the transfer station was a joint effort by the JROTC program and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. The students repaired, sanded and painted the box.
The vandalized box will have to be repainted once it’s returned by police at the end of their investigation, Steadman said. It’s not known when that will occur.
“Whatever needs to be done, the kids will refurbish the box,” he said.
It will be reinstalled at the transfer station, Steadman said.