The Blue Orchid Pan Asian Restaurant in New Haven, Conn., fell victim to a group of young people who took it upon themselves to steal the rainbow flag hanging above the establishment’s door.
This marks the third time in a year that someone has stolen the restaurant’s flag, the Stamford Advocate reports. In this instance, Kyu Tipjak and his husband, Michael Flora, owners of The Blue Orchid, caught the crime on a security camera.
In the video, a group of young people approached the restaurant and began trying to jump up and take down the flag. After several minutes, one climbed up the front of the building to pull it down. Successful, the thieves waved the flag and mugged for the security camera before walking off with the stolen property. A few minutes later, a member of the group was seen running back to grab what looked to be their wallet from the wall.
“This is the third time that it’s been taken down,” Flora told the Stamford Advocate. His reaction to seeing it missing the following morning? “Not again,” he said. It had been less than a week since it had been put back up, after having been brought in for the winter.
“When I saw the video I was absolutely shocked because of ... how many people were there and didn’t see anything wrong with it. It was a group of six people and no one thought that maybe it was something they shouldn’t be doing,” said Flora.
The couple shared the footage on social media, hoping that someone would come forward who recognized the thieves who took no pains to hide their identities.
The video went viral and people did come forward — but it was with their support rather than tips about the crime. Some reportedly hand-delivered a new flag to the restaurant along with several smaller rainbow flags to give out to customers.
A police report has been filed, although authorities have determined that the thieves didn’t “degrade, disrespect, or make any hateful actions or gestures toward the flag,” so the incident isn’t being considered a hate crime.
The executive director of the New Haven Pride Center, Patrick Dunn, disagreed.
“This incident is indicative of a larger wave of hate that is brewing both nationally and locally,” he said. “While these young folks may think it was a harmless joke, the trauma of this is very real for the small-business owners and community members it affects.”