Flood Victims Dealing with New Threat -- Looters

Piles of flood debris are attractive targets for looters and trash pickers.
Piles of flood debris are attractive targets for looters and trash pickers.

FINDLAY -- People in Findlay have a problem that is adding insult to the injury of last week's flooding.  Looters and trash pickers are now trolling the streets, picking up items taken to the curb.  Not only do Findlay resident see that as making money from a tragedy, but handling some of the flood items could be dangerous.

A slow-moving rain storm about ten days ago dumped as much as 9 inches of rain on the Findlay area.  The Blanchard River overflowed its banks, leaving several blocks of Findlay under waist-deep water.  That flood then rolled downstream to Ottawa before subsiding several days later.

Tina Bruskotter says she's very upset with people picking through her flood-damaged stuff that's out at the curb.  Some, she says, are acting very aggressively.  "There was a guy waiting on my dishwasher, and he came up to the front door and asked if he could take it because he knew we were taking it out," said Bruskotter.

Over the weekend, her neighbor, Jack Logsdon, saw their street clogged with trash pickers.  "I saw somebody with a truck and a trailer coming along, scrapping out mowers and bikes," said Logsdon.  "[The price of] metal's up, so anything metal is taken."

Even during our interview with Tina, a truck came along the street, looking for appliances.  What goes through her mind seeing this happen?  "I think they're making money on our misery," Bruskotter said.

Findlay Police Chief William Spraw says his officers have arrested a few looters, increased patrols in flooded areas, and asked trash divers to move along.  "If you don't have business there, and you're not there cleaning up or if you don't live there, stay out," said Spraw.  "These people have enough to deal with."

"Taking it out of these piles and things like that is just not safe for anybody," said Garry Valentine, the Emergency Management Agency director for Hancock County.  "We have had indications that some are doing it and turning around and selling them at a garage sale."

"People don't know what they're getting.  This stuff is contaminated," added Valentine.  "Who knows what it's been in?"

The bottom line, emergency managers say, is to leave these flood victims alone.

Count on News 11 to follow the flooding stories as they develop.

Posted by AEB