Thief steals American flags in NYC

Three jeers for this red, white and blue-swiping bandit.

A coldhearted thief stole American flags from homes along a patriotic stretch of a Brooklyn neighborhood ahead of Fourth of July festivities, leaving residents upset and scratching their heads over who would commit such a heartbreaking crime.

One of the flags that went missing either late Thursday or early Friday had been flown in Iraq and was given to Windsor Terrace residents George and Anne Burke in 2008 by a friend in the US Army, the couple told The Post.

american-flag2_small2 Thief steals American flags in NYC   

“We’re quite upset about it. It’s very disturbing. On July Fourth, this is what we find!” said the couple’s daughter Karen Burke Abruzzese, 45. “We live in America, the land of freedom, and I don’t know who would do this.”

The family had proudly displayed the banner outside their home at 1628 10th Ave. Abruzzese said her mom went out for coffee at 7:30 a.m. when she noticed it was gone.

“The pole was smashed in half and in the street. And then we noticed a couple other neighbor’s flags were gone,” Abruzzese said.

Their treasured 3-by-5-foot Old Glory came with a certificate of authenticity.

“This certifies that the accompanying flag was flown over the Headquarters of the Multi-National Corps-Iraq in your honor during Operation Iraqi Freedom,” it read.

Abruzzese compared the flag thievery to a hate crime.

“It’s, obviously, I would think, someone who doesn’t like America, doesn’t like the July Fourth patriotic day,” she said.

Six flags, in all, were stolen along 10th Avenue in the middle-class neighborhood, and two were taken from homes around the corner on Sherman Street, cops said.

Two flags were taken from Camille D’Agostos’ yard, including a small $1 banner that she places at the grave of her father, a World War II veteran, every year.

“To rob a cheap little flag that I put on the grave?” D’Agostos, 52, said. “I think it’s very disrespectful, especially against the people who fought in the military.”

At first, resident James Shashaty thought Thursday night’s storm blew his flag away — until he noticed the broken and bent pole.

“I didn’t think much of it until my neighbor told me a lot of these flags were stolen,” said Shashaty, 71. “It’s a shame that it happened. It shows a sign of disrespect for what the flags stand for.”

Cops had made no arrests and had not identified a suspect.

But Abruzzese said grainy surveillance video taken at 6:12 a.m. from a nearby home Friday shows the brazen bandit riding a bicycle and carrying two duffel bags.

“You see him taking a flag off, putting the pole on the steps and putting [the flag] in his bag,” Abruzzese said. “It was obviously calculated.”

The Burke family didn’t let the shocking crime dampen their patriotic spirit — they put up another flag just in time for the fireworks.

“That won’t stop us from showing the American flag,” Abruzzese said.