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Stars and stripes vanish from College Pt. Blvd.

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While American flags have been disappearing from the shelves of stores throughout Queens, flags have also vanished from the streets of College Point.

Flags put up along College Point Boulevard between 14th and 22nd avenues in the wake of the World Trade Center disaster have been reported stolen in recent weeks.

Fred Mazzarello, president of the College Point Board of Trade and chairman of the College Point Memorial Day Parade Committee, installs American flags on phone poles for Memorial Day along with other members of his committee. After the events of Sept. 11, he and the committee decided they should fly the flags in College Point.

“We put the flags up there every Memorial Day, so we figured we should do it now,” said Mazzarello.

Following the procedure used for Memorial Day, the committee asked a Verizon worker to put the flags up along the street and he agreed to do so about five days after the attack. As of Friday, nearly half the flags put up had disappeared.

“They already stole 15 flags,” said Mazzarello. “We put up 33 flags.”

On Tuesday, Mazzarello reported that a 16th flag had been stolen.

“I’ve seen a couple flags on cars of young people about the same size, but I can’t say it’s the same people,” he said.

The Memorial Day Committee spent close to $1,000 on the flags, said Mazzarello.

Residents of College Point indicated that the thefts have not been confined to the flags along telephone poles.

“I know a lot of people who have brought flags for their own homes that have been taken,” said Betsy Jiminski, owner of L & A Aquarists, a pet supply store on College Point Boulevard.

Police have been in contact with College Point residents about the thefts. Police Officer Harvey Chin of the 109th Precinct said Monday the precinct had yet to make any arrests in connection with the thefts. Chin would not speculate as to why the flags were being stolen.

Jiminski pointed out that it was probably difficult for the perpetrators to steal the flags, considering they were high up on the flag poles. She said she had planned to attempt to catch the thieves on a recent evening.

“We were going to videotape it, but it started to rain,” she said.

Many residents and shop owners in the neighborhood have begun to take precautionary measures in light of the thefts.

“When we close, we take our flags down,” said Zoraida Suarez, an employee of Francesca’s Italian Ices on College Point Boulevard.

Mazzarello and his family also have their concerns.

“We’re going away for the weekend, and my wife doesn’t want me to put the flag out because she thinks they are going to steal it,” he said Friday as he noted most of the flags have been taken during the weekends.

“These guys here, they’re just as bad as the terrorists,” said Mazzarello of the thieves. “They’re not Americans.”

Reach Reporter Alexander Dworkowitz by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 141.

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