11/09/2013 07:16 EST | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST

Remembrance Day Ceremonial Flags Stolen From Vancouver-Area Legion

RICHMOND, B.C. - Members of a Royal Canadian Legion branch near Vancouver are reeling after 10 ceremonial flags were stolen just days before Remembrance Day.

William Spencer, president of legion branch No. 291 in Richmond, south of Vancouver, said the flags were stolen from a locked storage container during in the past week.

The flags were put into storage last Saturday, a day after they were used during a ceremony at a B.C. Lions football game in Vancouver, said Spencer. They were discovered and reported missing on Friday when a member of the legion went to fetch them for Remembrance Day rehearsals.

Among the stolen flags are the Union Jack, the Canadian flag, the ladies' auxiliary standards and the banner bearing the legion's insignia.

The flags and their poles were stored in a pair of ski bags, prompting members of the legion to suspect the thieves believed they were stealing skis. Nothing else was taken or damaged.

Spencer, who served for seven years in both the navy and army regular forces in Cyprus, said he's devastated.

"The legion flag and the ladies' auxiliary flags are irreplaceable," said Spencer.

The legion called the RCMP, which sent a team to check for fingerprints, but police were unable to find anything that could identify the suspects.

Spencer said it's crucial the flags are returned in time for the Remembrance Day parade on Monday.

"Just bring the flags back, no questions asked," Spencer said.

The RCMP asked for the public's help to recover the flags.

"I hope that out of respect for the significance these flags hold, someone will come forward with information about the flags so that we can get them back to the legion," Cpl. Stephanie Ashton said in a news release.

The legion's identification number, 291, is emblazoned clearly on the two most valuable flags, and the legion is asking that anyone who sees banners bearing that marking to contact police.

"Monday's a big day for us," said Kim Skiffington, who's been tending bar at the legion for 12 years. "When you don't have a flag to march in the parade, it's upsetting."

It's not the first time the legion branch has been a target of crime.

A year-and-a-half ago, a thief broke into the organization's building and attempted -- and failed -- to crack the club's safe.

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