Last week, news of tornado looters arrested in the center of Oklahoma’s worst devastation sparked outrage, and now police have confirmed that several arrests have been made for looting in Moore — the town hid hardest by last month’s super twister swept through and destroyed miles-wide swaths of the area.
In some cases, it appears tornado looters are after building scrap that can fetch significant dough in resale markets, but police admit that debris is not the sole focus of many looting individuals.
Reports of looting of jewelry and electronics by tornado looters have also been recorded by local police, and Moore police spokesman Jeremy Lewis admits cops have been taken aback by tornado looting in general.
“We are seeing people take everything from copper to pipes to scrap metal to all kinds of electronics… It’s a misdemeanor crime and not a crime we usually have to deal with.”
Moore resident Jon Fisher was one of the many in the town who lost everything to the May 20 twister that claimed 24 lives and destroyed many others.
Fisher said tornado looters had set in almost immediately, and says brazen thefts were observed nearly as soon as the storm cleared out:
“The houses are still standing and looters are kicking in doors and taking TVs and appliances… They arrested two guys in my neighborhood the night of the tornado who were carrying out a love seat and couch.”
While tornado looters are often threatened on social media, Moore City Manager Steve Eddy noted that not only were reports of looters overblown, but rumors that those suspected of looting would be shot on sight (repeated on sites like Facebook) were not accurate.
“We learned from the first tornado, and we have officers in that area 24/7… We have no tolerance for it. We’re not going to shoot them on sight or anything, but we will arrest anyone suspected of it.”
In Moore, 17 suspected tornado looters have been arrested since the May 20 storm.