Annandale, VA – Police have arrested a woman accused of shredding multiple American flags flying outside homes in several area neighborhoods Aug. 26.
Police said that the suspect, 39-year-old Maria Arif, cut up and ripped flags at over a dozen residences in Annandale and Falls Church, WTTG reported.
Arif went from home to home on foot, then tore down the flags before she mutilated and destroyed them.
Lights and other yard decorations were also destroyed, according to the Annandale Blog.
“The victims started contacting the police after a large number of flags over the course of a few days were being vandalized in the neighborhood,” Fairfax County Police Department spokesman Trevor Steranko told WMAL. “The neighborhood had come together and pretty much identified her and when police were in the neighborhood, the community was able to point her out.”
Arif was apprehended on Aug. 26, The Washington Post reported.
Resident Cherie Sullivan said that she and her husband were camping in their yard when Arif showed up, but that they didn’t realize she had vandalized their flags until later.
“This lady came up and we were sleeping outside and having a nice time in our yard,” Sullivan told WTTG. “It makes you feel a little unsafe.”
“I don’t know what happened that would cause someone to physically cut up a flag for no reason at all,” she added. “Maybe she has something against people hopefully she doesn’t and that she gets some help and recover from whatever was happening.”
A spike in flag vandalisms has led patriotic apparel company Warrior 12 to offer an "antifa-free guarantee" on their flags; they will replace flags purchased from them if destroyed by vandals.
Arif has been charged with larceny, two counts of mutilating a U.S. flag, and two counts of destruction of property, WTTG reported.
She was booked into the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center, and has since been released on bond, according to a Fairfax County Police Department press release.
The investigation into additional vandalisms is ongoing, and more charges could be added, WTTG reported.
Police said Arif’s motive is unknown.