Looters Pick Through Debris Of Homes Burned In Wildfires

Wednesday, August 15th 2012, 7:18 pm
By: Craig Day

Recovering from the devastating wildfires is hard enough for hundreds of victims, but now thieves with no sense of compassion are making a terrible situation even worse.

"There's a lot of memories out here," said Creek County resident Bruce Begley.

Begley said it's hard for him to see his parents' home, the house he grew up in, reduced to a pile of debris.

His folks had lived there, northwest of Mannford for 40 years.

What makes the situation even worse is that looters have been picking through what little is left.

8/10/2012 Related Story: Teenager Accused Of Looting Home Burned In Cleveland County Wildfire

"They know what they're doing is wrong," Begley said.

Begley said the looters took guns and tools and also stole their trust in their neighbors.

"They've violated their home," Begley said.

Upon closer inspection of their burned out homes, other wildfire victims are also discovering things have been stolen.

"Everything that was salvageable, the looters have taken," said Marshal Hall.

Hall lost things like guns, a roll of barbed wire, copper and metal.

"It's just total devastation. This is everything I've worked for,' Hall said.

Looters taking from people already facing such a difficult recovery, sickens Begley and he said he finds it shameful.

"I hope you can find peace. And just ask that you stop all the stealing," Begley said.

Begley said he is shocked people are capitalizing off someone else's misfortune, without any sense of compassion.

He has no choice but to keep the gate locked, hope his neighbors keep an eye on things, and hope that somehow the thieves get a conscience.

"I pray that God brings peace for them and they'll come to terms with it, and they'll stop stealing from people who have lost everything," Begley said.

The Creek County Sheriff's office said, over the past week, they've increased from eight-hour shifts to 12-hour shifts, and have called in reserve deputies to help patrol.

Since the geographic area is so large, they're asking residents to watch for any suspicious vehicles or activity and immediately call to report it.