Milton, DE – A 21-year-old woman was arrested July 13 after she stopped her vehicle to steal a Thin Blue Line flag that was flying near a bridge in honor of a fallen state trooper.
The flag owner told police he was flying the flag to honor Delaware State Master Corporal William Matt who died unexpectedly on Monday.
Catherine Iocco, who lives in Wilmington, pulled her black Chevrolet Malibu onto the left shoulder and a witness called police when he saw her take the flag down and bring it back to her car, according to Wilmington News Journal.
That witness gave police a description of Iocco’s vehicle and a tag number, according to Sergeant Richard Bratz of the Delaware State Police.
The witness also told police the woman used her cell phone as she drove away.
Police were able to track Iocco using the information on her vehicle.
Police arrested Iocco in Milton and she told police she could not return the flag because she burned it, according to the Wilmington News Journal.
She was charged with theft, criminal mischief and other related traffic charges, the Wilmington News Journal reported.
Iocco was arraigned and released on a $275 unsecured bond.
Tim Dale and Dave Repass had placed the thin blue line flag on the Nassau Bridge because Trooper Matt was known to conduct traffic stops near that bridge, according to WBOC-TV.
Dale said a new flag is now flying in place of the flag that was stolen and burned, according to WBOC.
Cpl. Matt’s wife and son passed away in a car accident approximately eight years ago, but the trooper never stopped carrying on for his family and his department, Representative Steve Smyk, a close friend and neighbor, told Delmarva Now.
"A similar tragedy would have crushed many men, yet he found a way through his grief, not only to raise his remaining children, but to work with me in the Delaware State Troopers Association to help officers experiencing their own adversities,” said Smyk, who also served in the Delaware State Police.
"Anyone who knew Bill was aware he had a wonderful, bellowing voice,” Smyk recalled. “When used to its full effect, I actually saw him stop criminals in their tracks.”
Cpl. Matt was also a United States Army veteran, and later retired from the Delaware National Guard at the rank of captain.
In September, he would have faced mandatory retirement from the state police force, Smyk said.
"I am among the many who will miss Bill in about every way he can be missed,” he said. “With his passing, Delaware has lost one of its exemplary citizens.”