The flag was not still there

For anyone wondering what happened to the huge, missing American flag that has flown for years over Wittmeier Auto Center, here’s the scoop:

It was stolen.

It happened sometime on the rainy night of Nov. 17. Apparently, someone overcome with a strong dose of patriotism simply lowered the flag, unhooked it from the cable and then drove away with it, said Wittmeier General Manager Wayne Wittmeier.

This is no ordinary flag. By a long shot, it’s the largest flag flown in town, measuring 30 by 50 feet. It’s worth $2,600, Wittmeier said, and is highly recognizable. Which leads to the inevitable question: What does one do with such a flag?

“I have no idea what whoever stole it would want with it,” Wittmeier said. “I just can’t believe that someone would steal an American flag—especially during this time—in the first place. It’s very disappointing.”

Chico police reported no leads.. Pending any breaks in the case, it will probably be closed, Wittmeier said. It seems clear that whoever took the flag simply parked alongside Highway 99, jumped the chain link fence separating the freeway from the car lot, shimmied the flag down the pole and then drove away with it. There were muddy footprints where the perpetrator apparently walked, Wittmeier said.

Even if the flag isn’t found, Wittmeier said all isn’t lost. The auto center has a replacement—even newer than the stolen flag—that will soon fly above south Chico again.

"It’s an icon in this community," Wittmeier said.