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Authorities in Kentucky say five people have been arrested for allegedly looting homes destroyed by last week’s massive tornadoes.
A group of thieves reportedly went to a location “particularly hit hard by the tornado” last week and began rummaging through and ransacking the demolished homes, Graves County Sheriff Jon Hayden said.
Police from a number of agencies converged on the group of five quickly after they were stopped trying to vacate the area with several damaged vehicles, the New York Post reported. The vehicles “were owned by tornado victims that have been displaced by the tornado, in the hospital, and/or deceased,” Hayden said.
When the group was confronted by officers, they gave conflicting accounts of why they were there, with a few saying that they had been given permission to be at the locations. Officers were able to disprove those claims after contacting some of the homeowners, however.
In addition to vehicles, the group was busted with household goods as well. Two of the suspects were found to be in possession of methamphetamines, The Post reported.
One of the meth suspects, Kaitlyn Moore, 29, was found with the drug hidden in a body cavity, which she said she stashed after police stopped the group. She was charged for possession of the drug, automobile theft, and tampering with evidence. Police did not say where she is from.
Meanwhile, Linda Morris, 52, of Dresden, Tenn., was also found carrying syringes of meth in the vehicle she was driving, as well as in her purse. She also had copper wiring and a new pair of women’s Ugg boots that police say she stole from the home of a storm victim. She, too, was charged with automobile theft and stealing personal property, as well as drug possession and driving on a suspended license.
Kevin Stowe, 55, of Union City, Tenn., was also charged with stealing an automobile as well as theft of a motor vehicle registration plate. He had more than $120,000 in his possession when officers arrested him.
Ronnie White, 57, and Lynne Bailey, 56, both from Hickman, Ky., were also charged with stealing vehicles.
On Friday, four Michigan men were busted in nearby Princeton, Ky, for trying to steal vehicles that were damaged by the storm.
“Mitchell E. Stanton and Jesse H. Stanton both of Coldwater, Michigan, were arrested and charged with possession of burglary tools and receiving stolen property. Sevon E. Gowen of Sturgis, Michigan, was arrested and charged with possession of burglary tools, receiving stolen property, possession of controlled substance first degree methamphetamine, and promoting contraband first degree. Brandon L. Ransbottom of Bronson, Michigan, was arrested and charged with possession of burglary tools, receiving stolen property, possession of handgun by a convicted felon, and possession of marijuana,” said a press release from the Kentucky attorney general’s office.
“Looting and theft will not be tolerated,” Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron warned following the arrests.
“Our office has spoken with Graves County Sheriff Jon Hayden and Commonwealth’s Attorney Richie Kemp, and the full force of the law will be brought against anyone who tries to take advantage of Kentuckians,” he added in a statement.
All told, 78 Kentucky residents were killed by a massive tornado that blew through the region on Dec. 10 and 11.
Over the weekend, Gov. Andy Beshear announced that all missing persons had been accounted for.
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