Metal sticking up from debris piles and house foundations may have been too tempting for four people accused of looting a tornado-damaged neighborhood in south Oklahoma City, police said.
The four individuals spotted picking through the disaster area Thursday morning probably are from out of state, police Capt. Dexter Nelson said.
“This is the area that's been heavily damaged by tornadoes,” Nelson said. “There's been a lot of demolition work in the area. Most of the houses have been pushed off their slabs and to the curb.”
Amadeo Mazariegos, 38; Emilio Acevedo, 25; Manuel Rios, 36; and Mirael Harrera, 38, were arrested on complaints of copper larceny and removing items from a disaster area.
City workers called police about 10:30 a.m. after noticing people picking metal out of the rubble in the 700 block of SW 149 Place.
“In a disaster area, anything you take from that disaster area can be considered looting if you're not a homeowner or if you're not with the homeowner and the homeowner has given you permission to do so,” Nelson said.
Looting isn't the only crime that's popped up amid the devastation in south Oklahoma City.
A scammer has been putting “For sale” signs in the same neighborhood, looking to take advantage of people who want to purchase properties in the area.
Nelson urged potential buyers to proceed with caution in any sale, making sure to check for official records of property ownership.
Police have increased patrols to try and deter crimes in the area, Nelson said.