Oak Grove homeowner’s report leads Jackson County sheriff’s deputies to arrest suspected looter

OAK GROVE, Mo. -- Authorities are once again warning looters to stay out of Oak Grove.

So far sheriff’s deputies have taken a man into custody for allegedly stealing from a tornado survivor. Law enforcement remains vigilant in the effort to prevent more thefts.

If you try to get into any neighborhood, you'll be greeted by flashing lights with an officer asking what you’re doing there. Some folks who live in Oak Grove couldn’t happier to see them.

“I’m lucky to have a home to stay in,” said Taylor Hartwig.

Seeing major damage to her neighborhood is hard enough. What also hurts is knowing that there are some who could be looking to take what little her neighbors have left.

“Sick to my stomach, because I mean this is a tragedy. You think somebody would go that low,” said Hartwig.

You’ll only see some boarded up windows and minor damage at her home, but some of her neighbors don’t even have walls to keep their possessions safe from thieves, so she’ll be keeping an eye out for them. Her watchful eyes won’t be the only ones.

“We’re checking folks as they’re coming up and down the road. If you can’t prove that you belong here then you need to go,” said Jackson County Sheriff Mike Sharp.

He says deputies detained and are questioning a man accused of stealing from a tornado survivor who’s already been through enough.

“They’ve gone through a traumatic event. This tornado has destroyed their homes. Their property is gone and they have no power,” said Sheriff Sharp.

He says until all property owners can get their homes and possessions secure, expect to answer to law enforcement when you drive through the neighborhoods.

“We’ve stopped several cars, suspicious activity, advised them they needed to move on down range; they weren’t welcomed here and they left,” said Sheriff Sharp.

It’s an effort that leaves residents like Hartwig feeling more at ease.

"Very secure. Very secure,” she affirmed.

Sheriff Sharp also spoke about the potential for scam artists to make their way into town offering services. He suggests folks check in with the city’s civic center for a list of those who have been approved to come in and offer services.