Vermont Cops Probe Flag Thefts, Burnings

At least five American flags (search) have been found burned in public places in the city since mid-June, and several residents have reported their flags missing, police said.

Though no solid leads have developed, police Chief Douglas Hoyt said "it's entirely possible" the incidents are related.

Desecrating a U.S. flag is not a crime, but the perpetrator could be prosecuted for theft or damaging someone else's property, Hoyt said.

In one of the incidents, two mutilated flags were wrapped around an Ethan Allen (search) statue at the Statehouse. In another, a U.S. flag was placed on a church's Virgin Mary statue and set on fire.

A flag found Wednesday draped on a building had the stars burned out and the phrase "Stop the Corruption." Some of the missing flags were displayed by the city for Fourth of July festivities.