Authorities in Moore, Oklahoma say that one man from New York and at least two men from Virginia were among those who have been arrested for looting homes that were hit by massive tornadoes last month.
The storms, which left 24 people dead and ravaged homes and businesses, have become goldmines for looters looking to pick over the town’s remains; according to The Oklahoman, several feet of copper wire, scrap metal, and personal items were taken by the nearly two dozen people who have been arrested. Among some of the most expensive items reported stolen were a $50,000 watch, a $13,000 watch, a $2,000 fountain pen and a $1,300 hunting camera.
“We are seeing people take everything from copper to pipes to scrap metal to all kinds of electronics,” police spokesman Jeremy Lewis said. “It’s a misdemeanor crime and not a crime we usually have to deal with.”
Moore resident Jon Fisher was among those whose house was targeted.
“The houses are still standing and looters are kicking in doors and taking TVs and appliances,” Fisher said. “They arrested two guys in my neighborhood the night of the tornado who were carrying out a love seat and couch.”
Officers set up roadblocks around the homes that were destroyed in order to better police who was coming and going in the area right after the storms hit, but the looters found a way in anyway. One of the men arrested, Steven Daniels, told police he was there for the sole purpose of looting, along with two friends. Steve Costello and Justin Wagner were also taken into custody.
‘[Daniels] advised he drove from Virginia to Moore … with two other subjects for the purpose of removing steel and copper utility wire from the disaster area,’ an affidavit filed in Cleveland County District Court read.
In an area so hard hit by the storms–where property is lying everywhere and may go largely unclaimed due to the far-flying effects of the tornado–it may be difficult for police to completely keep the items safe from looters.