Looters accused of stealing from Kokomo storm victims

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Police in Kokomo are using a curfew and extra patrols to protect people and property after accused looters stole from storm victims.

Criminals stealing from tornado-damaged stores and homes is one of the darkest sides of disaster - even more sinister than the storm itself.

"It's crazy, isn't it? I mean I can't believe people are out stealing stuff when all they need to do is knock on the door and ask for it," said Kokomo resident Ted Longfellow.

Longfellow is doing the right thing. He's been getting business owners' "OK" before clearing and selling metal at damaged businesses.

But not everyone's so honest.

Looters are accused of hitting up the Soupley's liquor store on Monday, stealing bottles from where the walls caved in.

"Jerks. It's sad, really sad," said Soupley's employee Tim Beard. "I walked around here and seen 'em and called the police and the police caught them down the road."

Alleged thieves Steven Grace, Jeremy Beard, Courtney Wilson and David Wilson Jr. were arrested and jailed. But with other reports of looting in Kokomo, Tim and his watchdog, Weezer, spent the night in Tim's car outside the store. Soupley's employees are working in shifts, making sure no one steals again.

Kokomo officers are protecting people and property, too. They're enforcing a 6 p.m.-6 a.m. curfew and checking drivers' IDs in neighborhoods where the power's still out. State Police are also helping local officers with extra patrols.

"We want to make sure everyone is safe, that there's no damage being done by looters or stealing or mischief and we're just out here to make sure everyone coming in lives here or has a purpose here," explained Officer Rick Miller.

It is a frustrating reality for police and neighbors - criminals preying on an already vulnerable community.

"Not only are they victims of nature, then on top of it, it's like they're doubly victimized," Miller said.