Police say men came from Virginia to loot in tornado-ravaged Moore

Arrested with a truck full of copper wire, scrap metal and other items from homes destroyed by the May 20 tornado in Moore, three men told police they came hundreds of miles — all the way from Virginia — for the sole purpose of looting in the disaster area.
by Andrew Knittle Published: June 7, 2013
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Arrested with a truck full of copper wire, scrap metal and other items from homes destroyed by the May 20 tornado in Moore, three men told police they came hundreds of miles — all the way from Virginia — for the sole purpose of looting in the disaster area.

Another resident reported that a $50,000 watch was stolen from his home in Moore.

Nearly three weeks since a monster tornado tore through the city, killing more than 20 and wiping entire homes from existence, Moore police continue to investigate looting in the massive disaster area.

Steven Corky Daniels, of Harrisonburg, Va., was arrested Sunday when a Moore police officer spotted him walking near Broadway and SW 8 carrying a “large piece of utility wire in his hand.”

Daniels, 36, claimed to be the owner of recycling company in his home state. He apparently admitted to police why he was in Moore.

“(Daniels) 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.

Daniels was charged with disturbing a disaster area, a misdemeanor, on Monday. He has since posted bail.

Steve Costello, 44, and Justin Wagner, 25, were arrested, along with Daniels. And like Daniels, police say both men admitted why they had driven to Oklahoma when questioned.

Costello was seen standing next to a truck with a trailer filled with “a large amount of steel and copper utility wire,” a police officer wrote in the affidavit. Wagner was spotted “going through disaster debris.”

Costello listed an address in Elmhurst, N.Y., when he was booked into the Cleveland County jail. Wagner is from McGaheysville, Va., arrest records show.

Others also arrested

in separate incidents

One woman, Norman resident Maria Lopez, was charged May 30 with disturbing a disaster area.

Lopez, 30, was arrested May 29 after members of the National Guard and local residents told police they saw a woman using children to sort through storm debris.

When a police officer caught up with Lopez and the SUV she was driving, several of the stolen items were in “plain view” inside the vehicle, records show.

Edward Dean McDonald, 45, was arrested May 28 after police pulled up to 116 SW 8 and saw him “loading a refrigerator onto a dolly,” a police officer wrote in affidavit.

McDonald, who lives in Moore, told police he had permission to take the items but couldn't provide documentation. He also couldn't recall the name of the homeowner or his phone number when questioned by police.

Police said a washer and dryer were loaded onto a trailer near the house, as well.

McDonald was charged May 29 with disturbing a disaster area and has since posted bail.

Another man was arrested on suspicion of looting and later confessed to being in the U.S. illegally.

Police arrested Osbaldo de Jesus Sagastume-Rodas, 59, when an officer saw him loading “metal, copper wires, tool boxes” and other items into a pickup.

When officers approached Sagastume-Rodas and asked him if he spoke English, the suspect apparently began unloading his truck.

Sagastume-Rodas listed an address in Moore, arrest records show.

Looting reports roll in

Residents in Moore have reported numerous items stolen since the May 20 tornadoes. Some of those reports claim high-dollar losses.

One resident, with an address in central Moore, reported more than $70,000 in items stolen.

One of the items reported to be stolen from the residence was a $50,000 Patek Philippe wristwatch. The resident also claimed that a $13,000 Rolex watch, a $2,000 Mont Blanc fountain pen and a jewelry box containing $5,000 in miscellaneous items were missing, as well.

Another resident reported more than $6,000 in items stolen from their home in Moore.

The items include a $1,300 hunting camera, barbecue equipment and a $700 tiller.

NewsOK.com has disabled the comments for this article.
by Andrew Knittle
Investigative Reporter
Andrew Knittle has covered state water issues, tribal concerns and major criminal proceedings during his career as an Oklahoma journalist. He has won reporting awards from the state's Associated Press bureau and prides himself on finding a real...
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