LITTLE TOKYO, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Veterans in Little Tokyo are taken aback after surveillance video caught a thief stealing the American flag at a local monument.
The theft happened about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Go for Broke Monument, which commemorates Japanese Americans who served in the United States Army during World War II.
Surveillance video captured the suspect walk up to the monument, where he places an orange traffic cone. He appears to be cleaning the monument when, a short time later, he climbs the flag pole, grabs the flag and then throws it down to the floor. After climbing back down, he wraps the flag around him and then walks away.
The monument was put in place in honor of the 442nd Infantry Regiment, which became the most decorated unit in the history of American warfare. Their motto was "go for broke."
Nearby residents said the theft is very painful.
"When our veterans found out about this, they immediately were on the phone talking to one another, calling each other, talking amongst themselves," said Mitchell Maki of the Go for Broke Foundation. "There was a feeling of sadness and of betrayal. This was the flag that they had fought for, this was the nation that they loved, and it was more than just a piece of cloth..."
The surveillance video was turned over to the Los Angeles Police Department. Meantime, the foundation said it will replace the flag and figure out a way to prevent the new one from being stolen.
VIDEO: Thief steals American flag from Go for Broke Monument in Little Tokyo