Ridgefield flag burning, vandalism investigation raises questions for residents

More than a week after two American flags were burned and four mailboxes were destroyed on Barrack Hill Road, neighbors are beginning to wonder why Ridgefield police officers didn’t respond sooner to investigate the crimes and why department supervisors haven’t returned their calls.

“I haven’t heard back from them — not a thing,” said Jairo Contreras, who’s American flag was burned between the overnight hours of July 7 and July 8.

Contreras said he made four calls to the Ridgefield Police Department before Officer Matthew Seibert finally came out to the scene to collect evidence on the evening of Wednesday, July 10.

“You would think they would have jumped all over it,” Contreras said. “I had to call four times. Finally, when I spoke to a supervisor, he said there must have been a miscommunication. I told him that the flag was going to be replaced and they were going to lose their chance to collect evidence.”

Contreras, who had rented the flag from the Ridgefield Rotary Club’s Fly the Colors program, said a new flag was installed on Thursday, July 11. Five days later, and he hasn’t gotten an update about the investigation and whether or not cops think that the burned flags and smashed mailboxes were related.

“What we know for sure is that two flags were burned, four mailboxes destroyed and that four cars had their windows broken in,” he said. “I haven’t heard one thing from the police. Nobody has since the middle of last week.”

Ridgefield police Capt. Shawn Platt said that the department responds to every incident “if requested to by the complainant.”

“The Ridgefield Police Department never closes, we are here to serve the public every day/night,” he said on July 16. “Sometimes people will call in to just have the damage noted and not want to make a formal complaint, or not call at all.”

Broken car windows

The broken car windows happened on Armand Place, Walnut Hill Road, Barrack Hill Road and Pin Pack Road.

One Barrack Hill Road resident recorded video footage of two suspects — both young white males, one with dark hair and the other with curly blond hair — who destroyed the driver’s side window of his truck before fleeing in a gray Jeep Wrangler with two other occupants.

“They tried to break the rear window, too,” the Barrack Hill resident said. “The upholstery was damaged pretty significantly from the shards of glass.”

He recorded the suspects on a dash camera located inside his car.

“You can hear voices on the recording and, at one point, they’re calling each other by their names but it’s hard to make out,” he said. “Unfortunately, [the video] can’t make out a plate number.”

The Barrack Hill man admitted the video wasn’t the best quality but questioned why the police haven’t done more with his recording.

“I’ve heard from several neighbors that the police aren’t returning their calls,” he said.

Platt countered that the police had obtained the video but that “it wasn't any good for identification purposes.”

He said one of the reasons why residents haven’t received calls back is that they “might have been directed to the investigating officer's voicemail, whom may have been off those days.”

The police captain confirmed last week that an eyewitness had provided details about the suspects. He did not want to say whether the broken car windows were related to the damaged American flags and mailboxes.

On July 16, he said that no new information had been reported to the department since the incidents occurred.

“The surveillance video of one victims car being damaged had no visual video footage and muffled audio, therefore no evidentiary value,” Platt said. “There was only one witness to a damaged vehicle and none for any other vandalism, so there is nothing to compare the suspects to or if they were involved in the other vandalism. If there are other victims in the community, they are asked to report the incident to the police department.”

Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the Ridgefield Police Department on the anonymous tip line at 203-431-2345.