By Patrick Reilly
Five heartless thieves were busted for looting the ravaged homes of tornado victims in Kentucky, officials said.
The group of looters allegedly went to an area “particularly hit hard by the tornado” on Friday and ransacked the destroyed homes, according to Graves County Sheriff Jon Hayden.
Law enforcement officers from several agencies quickly converged on the group who were stopped while trying to flee the area with several damaged vehicles in tow.
The vehicles “were owned by tornado victims that have been displaced by the tornado, in the hospital, and/or deceased,” Hayden said.
When confronted by officers, group members gave contradicting stories with some claiming they had received permission to be there, which deputies disproved after contacting the homeowners.
In addition to the cars and other household goods, two of the suspects were found in possession of methamphetamines.
Kaitlyn Moore, 29, was found with methamphetamine hidden in her body cavity, which she told police was hidden when the group was stopped. She was charged with automobile theft, possession of methamphetamine and tampering with evidence. No home address was disclosed by officials.
Linda Morris, 52, of Dresden, Tennessee was found with syringes containing methamphetamine in the vehicle she was operating and in her purse. She was also found in possession of copper wiring and a brand new pair of women’s Ugg boots that were stolen from a storm victim’s home. She was charged with automobile theft, theft of personal property, possession of methamphetamine and driving with a suspended license.
Kevin Stowe, 55, of Union City, Tennessee, was found with over $120,000 in his possession and was charged with theft of an automobile and theft of a motor vehicle registration plate.
Ronnie White, 57, and Lynne Bailey, 56, both of Hickman, Kentucky, were both charged with unlawful taking of automobiles.
It wasn’t the first time looters struck the home of victims from the recent twisters.
On Friday, four men from Michigan were arrested in nearby Princeton for also attempting to steal storm-damaged vehicles from victims’ homes.
In response to the arrests, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron warned that “Looting and theft will not be tolerated.”
“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,” the AG said in a statement.
In total, 78 Kentuckians were killed in the devastating tornado the tore across the region on Dec. 10 and 11. On Saturday, Gov. Andy Beshear confirmed that all missing persons had been accounted for.
In total, at least 92 have been confirmed dead across several states.