Albany police are investigating three separate incidents where flags were burned at three different homes.
Police say they received a call from a homeowner on New Scotland Avenue for a report that someone had burned their rainbow flag. The victim told officers that, during the overnight hours, an unknown suspect burned their flag and left it on their front porch.
Police say there were also complaints about flags being burned on both Woodlawn Avenue and Hansen Avenue around the same time. Police say the time frame is what leads them to believe the incidents are linked. However, they have not determined a motive behind the act, according to Albany Police spokesman Steve Smith.
“It’s certainly possible that the outcome will be a hate crime, but right now our primary objective is to find the person responsible before we even start to consider what to charge a person with,” he said.
Kathleen Koester lives on Woodlawn Avenue, next door to one of the three homes vandalized. She says her neighbor hosts foreign exchange students, and proudly displays their South Korean flag to make them feel welcome.
“It’s unfortunate that people could go to such extremes to make a point,” she said.
Meanwhile, neighbors remain in disbelief. Alice Brody is a 35-year resident of Albany.
"It’s scary,” she said. “It’s scary that you read about these things but you don’t think it’s going to happen close to you.”
Whether it’s a prank or a hate crime, neighbors say it’s still unacceptable.
Tymus Catoe has lived in the neighborhood for more than three decades. He hopes the person behind the arson will be caught.
“Disrespecting someone else’s property, that’s never funny,” said Catoe. “But there’s seriously nothing funny about targeting certain groups.”
At this time, all three incidents remain under investigation. Neighbors are asked to keep an eye on anything unusual. Anyone with information is asked to call the Albany Police Department.