‘It’s a landmark’: Giant Canadian flag stolen from Nanaimo car dealership

'It's a landmark': Giant Canadian flag stolen from Nanaimo car dealership
The Canadian flag outside Laird Wheaton GM in Nanaimo is seen in this Google Maps screenshot.

A Nanaimo car dealership wants its flag back.

The nine metre by 4.5 metre (30 by 15 foot) Canadian flag outside Laird Wheaton GM on Bowen Road was stolen late Saturday or early Sunday morning, says general manager Ross Barnard.

“That’s an iconic flag. It’s a landmark,” Barnard told CHEK News Wednesday, noting it’s been soaring over the Nanaimo business for 27 years. “This is probably the only one of this size on Vancouver Island.”

But stealing the flag was no easy task.

“In order for that to happen, someone had to scale up 20 feet,” said Barnard in an interview. “Somebody has come to the intersection with a ladder to get up that high in order to get the flag to drop.”

He says it was on Monday morning when staff at the dealership deemed the flag stolen. No one knew where it was, the lot maintenance crew hadn’t touched it, and its pulleys looked like they had been cut with a grinder.

There was also metal shrapnel around the base of the pole.

“This has never happened before,” said Barnard. “We’re concerned about theft in the area regarding catalytic converters, but the last thing I would have ever thought is that someone would scale up that pole and steal the flag.”

The flag wasn’t cheap, according to Barnard. In fact, he says it would cost about $1,500 to replace, and each time it is removed from the pole costs money too.

“Is it a dare by someone?”

Now locals are wondering where the flag is.

“I drive by it every day on my way to the beach and use it to gauge the wind,” said Julie Boyer. “It helps me decide whether to go to Departure Bay or Piper’s Lagoon.”

In recent days, people have been calling the dealership and asking when it will be back on the pole because it’s often used to determine the direction and speed of wind.

“A lot of our customers always make a comment, ‘Where’s your flag? Where’s your flag?'” said Barnard. “People that I talk to are saying, ‘Who would do something like this?’ Is it a dare by someone? I have no idea.”

The Nanaimo RCMP are aware of the theft.

“All we know is that within the past three days, an unknown person(s) cut down the … flag from the flag pole in front of Laird Wheaton,” Const. Gary O’Brien, media relations officer with the RCMP detachment told CHEK News Wednesday.

“No witnesses, suspects, or CCTV.”

Barnard says the theft happened between 4 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. Sunday.

He says while the dealership has surveillance, the theft wasn’t caught on camera, so he’s hoping a neighbouring business has video of the culprit(s).

“Keep your eye out for my flag,” added Barnard with a laugh.

READ ALSO: Unusual TV theft caught on camera in Nanaimo

Ethan MorneauEthan Morneau

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