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Graves County Sheriff's Department on the lookout for thieves going through homes of tornado victims

Philanthropy Tornado Relief
Posted at 4:10 PM, Dec 24, 2021

MAYFIELD, Ky. (LEX 18) — Police continue to enforce an emergency curfew in Mayfield after deadly tornadoes wiped out the town.

But with that restriction in place, the sheriff says he's still seeing people with bad intentions taking advantage of victims' losses.

Police will tell you it happens every natural disaster. People with preying eyes move in on the unfortunate and take advantage of their loss.

Instead of giving, they're taking. The Graves County sheriff says a curfew helps. Still, thieves are rummaging through tornado victims' homes, stealing whatever they can get their hands on.

Sheriff Jon Hayden says he believes this couple was up to no good but caught them before anything happened.

He posted on Facebook that neither had business in one of Mayfield's hardest-hit areas and were not from the area. Both were arrested for drug offenses and charged with violating the emergency curfew.

"I've seen it in Bowling Green, I've seen it in Mayfield," said Shawn Helbig, a national trustee with the Kentucky Fraternal Order of Police.

Helbig says thieves have been rolling into tornado-ravaged towns with trucks and trailers, acting like they're there to help.

"They mill in with the volunteers, you have all these volunteers coming into your community to do great things to really want to help," said Helbig. "The problem is there are so many people from the outside the local citizens don't recognize the people."

The Graves County Sheriff's Department says five people were caught working as a group, going through tornado victims' homes, stealing everything from muddy change to new shoes and other household items. Deputies say they're also accused of stealing vehicles owned by victims who are in the hospital or sadly, deceased.

If that makes you angry, the laws don't help. Police say most of the thieves face misdemeanor charges or low-grade felonies.