Two memorial flags are being replaced after someone stole them from highway signs honoring a Franklin County Sheriff’s Office deputy killed in the line of duty.
The flags had adorned the memorial markers for Deputy Marty Martin on the northbound and southbound sides of Interstate 71 near Stringtown Road.
Martin, 35, was killed in 2008 in an automobile crash while working a narcotics investigation on the highway.
The signs had been placed on the highway in 2011 and the “Thin Blue Line” flags had been placed on the signs in 2017.
Chief Deputy Jim Gilbert of the sheriff’s office said the elements had worn and damaged the flags. That’s when M.A.D. Graphics in Obetz stepped in and created two flags built to withstand the weather and allow the flags to remain in place year round.
Those flags were placed on the signs on May 11, Gilbert said.
Earlier this week, the sheriff’s office began receiving messages that the flags were missing, he said.
Gilbert said he checked with the Ohio Department of Transportation to make sure construction crews in the area hadn’t moved the signs for safekeeping. It was then the flags were determined to have been stolen.
Whoever took the flag banners risked a serious accident, particularly on the southbound side of I-71 because there isn’t a safe place to pull off the road, Gilbert said.
“They would have to have been dropped off and picked back up,” he said.
M.A.D. Graphics has agreed to make two new banners for the signs, costing about $300. Gilbert said he hopes the banners will be back on the memorial signs within the next few days, with help from Martin’s son, who is now a teenager and wants to be a part of honoring his father.
The sheriff’s office is also asking anyone with information about the thefts to contact them. The flags are marked with the M.A.D. Graphics logo.