Tornado looters have descended on Moore, Oklahoma, from as far away as New York to steal valuables from victims of last month’s devastating tornado.
Authorities say they have reports of tornado looters stealing copper wire, scrap metal, and valuables from homes destroyed in the May 20 tornado. These looters have been found along the path of the tornado where 24 people lost their lives as they attempt to steal from what is left of the homes.
Police arrested one tornado looter from Elmhurst, New York, and others from Virginia on misdemeanor counts of stealing. Several Moore residents have been arrested as well.
One woman, Norma resident Maria Lopez, even got her children in on the act, police said. She was arrested May 29 after members of the National Guard and local residents told police they saw a woman instructing her children to sort through the debris for valuables.
Police arrested three men from Virginia with a truck full of scrap metal and other items stolen from homes. The men told police they they drove hundreds of miles for the sole purpose of looting in the wake of the tornado.
“(The suspect) 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 shows.
While the tornado looters may represent the dark side of the tragedy, several others have come together to help the victims. Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant pledged $1 million to tornado relief, as did Carrie Underwood. Crews have also come from hundreds of miles away to help clear debris and aide families left homeless by the tornado, which was considered one of the most powerful of all time.
The tornado looters have stretched police thin in the Oklahoma City suburb as they investigate several incidents. Residents have filed theft reports for a number of items, including a $50,000 watch, a $13,000 watch, and a $1,300 hunting camera.