After the storm: Looters in Lancaster




Posted on April 9, 2012 at 5:59 PM

Updated Monday, Apr 9 at 6:03 PM

LANCASTER — The tornado clean-up continues in Lancaster, and —  unfortunately —  so does the looting.

Police have arrested 14 people since the storm after they were caught looting homes.

News 8 witnessed officers investigating a suspected looter in an alley who was accused of putting storm victim's belongings in his truck.  

"When we confront them they say they're here to help the neighborhood to clean up, but we know what they're here for and we're not tolerating anybody that's picking stuff up without the property owner's consent." said Lancaster Police Chief Larry Flatt.

Flatt has beefed up patrols with the help of the Dallas County Sheriff's Department.

There are also detectives in plain clothes hoping to catch crooks who prey on people already down on their luck.

"We've put five people in jail just today," Chief Flatt said

Since Last Tuesday when the tornado hit, there have been a total of 14 arrests in Lancaster neighborhoods. These acts have caused already traumatized residents to fear they will lose what little they have left.  

"I think they have stolen two TVs and we just have to look through -- to see what else," said Sharon Branch.

Branch went to check on her sister's home that was barely standing. She said it is sad looters are taking advantage of a horrible situation.

"My sister is still so shaken up she can't come back here, so we are driving by constantly to keep an eye out on everything," Branch said.

Other neighbors stood guard over their air conditioning units. They are concerned about copper thieves after running off looters caught stealing scrap metal.

"It angers me,” Branch said. “It really does because my heart is broken for the people on this area."

It is an area where the contents of some homes are out in the open, making storm victims an open target for crime.