Burned flag

Police are investigating the burning of a flag at a house off of Seventh Avenue in Bozeman, Montana.

Bozeman police are investigating the burning of an American flag hanging at a home on Seventh Avenue near Cooper Park.

Bozeman Police Chief Steve Crawford said officers believe the incident happened sometime late Friday night or early Saturday morning. Officials are also investigating the possible theft of two packages from the porch of the same home, which officers believe also happened on Friday.

Crawford said there isn’t any damage to the home and that the incident is still under investigation.

John Brittingham, who lives at the house where the flag was burned, said he and his wife were visiting family in Idaho for Christmas and returned home on Friday. He said they were up until midnight and didn’t notice anything different about the flag when they were unloading their car.

The next morning Heather was staring out the window when she saw the burned flag and said, “Oh my God.”

John, an architecture professor at Montana State University, said he’s never stuck political ads in their front yard. He said hanging the American flag is a sign of respect and has nothing to do with politics.

“It’s always up. It has nothing to do with politics — right, left or in between,” John said.

The flag hangs right by the couple’s front door and John said he’s been wondering if the house could have caught fire.

He said he believed the burning happened some time Friday night to early Saturday morning. A mail carrier on Saturday told him that the flag wasn’t burned when she delivered his mail around noon on Friday. John said she alerted him to the two packages missing from his porch. He said he isn’t sure what was in the boxes and is working with the post office to figure out who sent them.

John has lived at the Seventh Avenue home for 23 years and said things in Bozeman have changed during that time.

“I never used to worry about anything,” he said.

More recently and before the incident, however, he started locking his car and house after thieves stole stuff out of his garage and bikes from the back porch.

“Stealing is one thing, but lighting a flag on fire that’s attached to someone’s home — that’s different,” John said.

John left the burned flag up over the weekend to raise awareness among his neighbors, but by Monday afternoon he’d taken it down.

“I’m kind of tired of looking at it. It’s not pleasant,” he said.

Freddy Monares can be reached at fmonares@dailychronicle.com or at 406-582-2630.