Looters are preying on tornado victims

By Taylor Barnhill  - bio | email

OAK GROVE, AL (WTVM) -  As families begin to pick up the pieces, some are realizing there is nothing left. But would you believe some thieves are using that as an opportunity to take what does remain?

Oak Grove resident Shaler Whiteside said, "Our son stays, or I stay but we aren't going to leave. What we've got is destroyed, but it's all we've got."

The Whiteside family lost their cars, their homes, and their belongings, but they refuse to let looters take off with what they do still have. He added, "People have lost everything they had and some people have lost much more than we have, their lives. And then when people take what they find and call it free game, its not. It's just a shame."

Another Oak grove resident, Jackie Vice and his wife fought for their lives… now they are fighting for their property, "To keep the looters from toting everything off. Did you already have a problem with them? Oh yes, the first night they were out here three different times."

Vice says he sleeps in a camper next to his home to protect what is his, "I just got out and started shining flashlights at them. But it won't be flashlights next time, it will be bullets flying at them."

But residents aren't the only ones fighting off the looters. Officers are working tirelessly to patrol all of the hardest hit areas.

Rick Luallen is a pastor in the community and tells News Leader Nine, "They've been patrolling regularly. Glencoe local, Anniston police Department, the sheriff's department and the state. They have been wonderful, they really have."

"They can't be here all the time and I can, but they've been real good about coming back and forth by here often," added Vice.

After the sun sets, it's the perfect opportunity for thieves to sort through debris. But with the help of law enforcement, this community is working to keep each other and their property safe. 

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