Thrift shop owners want to give American flag thief a second chance

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Posted at 9:28 PM, Mar 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-16 23:13:41-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — In the early morning hours of March 7, surveillance video at the Steered Straight Thrift Store in Murfreesboro captured images of a man walking up to the camera and hitting it, moments before their large American flag flying in the front of their store was stolen.

Valued at around $1,500, the thrift store owner Michael DeLeone had just paid out of his own pocket to buy the flag. Murfreesboro Police shared the surveillance video, calling the person in the video a person of interest in the theft.

But instead of seeking vengeance against whoever stole their flag, the store manager said they're happy to give the person a second chance.

"We would love our flag back if that were to happen, but we aren't going to shun him out," store manager Jennifer Sanchez said. "If he came here the next day and asked for clothing and shoes, we still would do it."

"I mean, who would we be if we said, 'Absolutely no,' and just cut somebody off?" Sanchez said.

It's a message of second chances that comes from an owner who knows what it's like to receive a second chance himself.

DeLeone once had his own run-in with the law after becoming addicted to drugs. He spent time in prison. Now he spends his time traveling the country speaking to all ages of students, about the dangers of drugs and alcoholism, along with suicide and bullying.

As for the missing flag, while the store hasn't recovered the original, the thrift shop has received three donated replacements already.