A Mississauga man says he is angry and frustrated after his surveillance cameras appeared to capture a suspect wanted in connection with neighbourhood vehicle break-ins setting his American flag on fire.
“If the wind had started picking up at that point, our house could have caught fire with us inside asleep,” Chris Jackson told Global News Tuesday afternoon.
“That could have turned out very differently.”
Jackson, who has lived in Mississauga since 2016 and previously lived in the United States, said he discovered the charred remains of the flag and the damaged flagpole while preparing to take his children to school earlier in the day.
He and his family also fly a Canadian flag outside of their home, located near Woodeden Park southwest of Mississauga Road and Queen Elizabeth Way. That flag wasn’t damaged during the incident, which Jackson said was captured on video.
The video appeared to show a man walking up to the driveway and grabbing at the handles of two vehicles in the driveway, before going straight to the flag. Seconds later, the suspect can be seen lighting the bottom corner of the flag.
After several seconds of the suspect trying to light it, the flames slowly begin to develop before the individual walks away. The flames could be seen slowly moving up the flag as debris, still on fire, falls to the ground.
It doesn’t appear Jackson’s property was the only one targeted early Tuesday. Global News was told at least five vehicle break-ins happened in Jackson’s neighbourhood overnight.
Peel Regional Police Const. Kyle Villers told Global News the incident is being reviewed by 11 Division Criminal Investigations Bureau officers after they were notified Tuesday morning.
He said it was too early to know what the suspect’s motivation was for setting Jackson’s American flag on fire, noting the investigation is still ongoing.
Canada doesn’t have laws prohibiting the burning or desecration of flags. Any such acts are protected as a form of expression under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
However, when it comes to the vehicle break-ins, he said suspects are looking for easy targets.
“We find a lot of these instances involve multiple cars in one area at a time … they’re accessing whatever cars they can get into,” Villers said.
Meanwhile, with the looming U.S. election, Jackson said President Donald Trump’s tenure in office and the different national responses to the coronavirus pandemic has meant “increasing animosity towards Americans.”
“It stinks. I’m not even a fan of Trump, but I find myself having to defend him all the time,” he said.
— With files from Morganne Campbell