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A Key West man stole the U.S. flag from the sheriff’s office flagpole, police said.

Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Detective Sgt. David Smith and Detective Spencer Curry raise the American flag outside the sheriff’s headquarters on Wednesday, March 6, 2019, after it was stolen on March 2.
Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Detective Sgt. David Smith and Detective Spencer Curry raise the American flag outside the sheriff’s headquarters on Wednesday, March 6, 2019, after it was stolen on March 2. Monroe County Sheriff's Office

A Key West homeless man was arrested Wednesday after police said he helped himself to the American flag that was flying outside the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office on March 2.

Robert Jorge Janus, 67, either didn’t know or didn’t care that Sheriff Rick Ramsay’s department, located off College Road on Stock Island, has surveillance cameras that monitor the parking lot and other areas outside and underneath the buildings.

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Monroe County Sheriff's Office

He not only swiped the flag but then exposed himself — all on camera.

Underneath the headquarters office building is where Janus was spotted on camera masturbating while seated in his wheelchair, police said. This was after he stole the flag, police said, and while he was apparently waiting for the nearby homeless shelter to open.

Janus, who is listed in jail records as retired and from Texas, was arrested on misdemeanor charges of theft and indecent exposure.

Earlier, Lower Keys Detective Sgt. David Smith was notified the flag had gone missing. Smith reviewed security camera footage.

The footage showed a man, later identified as Janus, approaching the flagpole in a wheelchair at 3:23 p.m. on March 2.

“Janus is seen untying the flag rope from its cleat and lowering the flag,” said Adam Linhardt, the spokesman for the sheriff’s office. “Janus then rolled up the flag and ultimately placed it in a backpack hanging from the rear of the wheelchair.”

Police spotted Janus in a parking lot at Kennedy Drive and North Roosevelt Boulevard in Key West on Wednesday and took him to jail.

Janus told police the flag was on the ground and he was planning on returning it.

He said he couldn’t remember masturbating. Janus is due in court at 9 a.m. March 26.

Gwen Filosa covers Key West and the Lower Florida Keys for FLKeysNews.com and the Miami Herald and lives in Key West. She was part of the staff at the New Orleans Times-Picayune that in 2005 won two Pulitzer Prizes for coverage of Hurricane Katrina. She graduated from Indiana University.


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