Dining With Denise Neil

Watch as a shamed Wichita bar patron returns a stolen flag in the middle of the night

Pumphouse thief returns flag

A Wichita bar patron takes a Kansas City Chiefs flag on Friday, but after video of the incident is broadcast on social media, the flag is returned on Sunday.
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A Wichita bar patron takes a Kansas City Chiefs flag on Friday, but after video of the incident is broadcast on social media, the flag is returned on Sunday.

It's a wonder that unruly bar patrons continue to do stupid things at Wichita's Pumphouse, the popular Old Town Bar at 825 E. Second St.

After all, the bar has a 100 percent success rate in what its general manager calls "Facebook Justice," also known as the public shaming and identifying of said patrons after their stupid actions are caught on surveillance video and then shared on social media.

Over the weekend, the bar had what Daron Adelgren, manager and head of Facebook Justice, says is at least its 10th such incident, and it resolved itself as quickly as all the other ones have.

It all started on Friday evening when the bar's staff noticed that one of its team flags that line the entrance on the north side of the bar had gone missing. Aldegren later reviewed surveillance tape and saw a man in shorts, a shirt with a Jayhawk emblem on it, sunglasses and a ballcap step up onto a flower bed, pull the Kansas City Chiefs flag from its holder, roll it up and walk away with it.

On Saturday, Aldegren did what he's done at least 10 times in the past several years. He strung together the clips of the crime and the perpetrator, including several closeups of his face from earlier in the evening, and posted them on the bar's Facebook account, asking people to share it.

Here's what Aldegren wrote in the post: "Well, it has been a while, Facebook friends, but Friday evening this guy decided he liked our Chiefs flag as much as we did and took it with him. We are big Chiefs fans, and we sure would like it back. Although finding his name on the credit card slip he signed is probably the easiest way to identify him, we thought everyone might like to see, once again ... #WhyWeCantHaveNiceThings#FacebookJustice. #HeIsAJayhawkFanToo."

Then he waited.

Within a few hours, Aldegren had heard from several people who knew exactly who the flag lifter was. The post was shared more than 400 times, and the video was viewed nearly 21,000 times.

He posted again.

"#FacebookJustice works again. The flag thief has been identified. We are waiting for him to do the right thing, return our flag, and put it back where he found it."

Then, just after 12:30 on Monday morning, the camera caught more action near the team flag poles.

A man with a similar build to the one who took the flag approaches the bar wearing a hoodie and covering his face with his arm. He tosses a flag into the flowerbed and flees.

On Monday, Aldegren said he is continually amazed by how well Facebook Justice works. The police would prefer if he called them, he said, but he guesses a missing Kansas City Chiefs flag wouldn't be high on their priority list, and he'd still be without his flag. Posting video of criminals in action has helped him get back money stolen from a tip jar, identify a guy who ripped a WSU poster off the wall and finally stop a repeat vandal.

"It's why we keep doing it, because we have literally had 100 percent success in either getting our property back or getting the identity of people involved in these things," he said.

Now that the flag is back, Aldegren said, he intends to drop the matter.

But he wonders how long it will take for patrons to realize that they're in the wrong bar for bad behavior.

"Every single time, multiple people will make comments: 'When will people learn you can't be stupid at that place?'" he said.

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