MIAMI — Thieves struck late this week, targeting a warehouse where supplies were being held that were used for aiding in emergency disaster response relief, according to Rick Aldridge with the local Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) and the Oklahoma Emergency Response Team (OKERT).
“We went into the warehouse and found some things that looked kind of out of place, but didn’t really think too much about it at first,” Aldridge said. “Then one of the guys noticed that all of our chain saws were missing. So that started things. We went in Friday morning and filed a police report and started doing an inventory and then, of course, the further along we got we realized it was a lot bigger than we thought.
“We lost a pretty significant amount of stuff — power tools, all of our chainsaws, and an awful lot of the hand tools we used to clean houses out and take out the sheetrock and flooring. They even took 11 or 12 cases (four to a case) of brand new flashlights, fairly expensive ones.”
The flashlights were medium to large LED-type flashlights, according to Aldridge, but an entire bin that was full of less expensive flashlights had been pulled out, but not taken.
“I guess they realized that they weren’t that valuable. They left those behind. It’s very frustrating,” he said. “I think the oddest thing that they took were these great big bins full of small bags of chips. We gave them to those in crises and to the kids that are about during crisis situations. It’s almost like they (the thieves) knew what they were after.”
Only a few people knew about the warehouse and its contents, according to Aldridge.
The location of the warehouse is not being revealed to help keep thieves from striking again.
Aldridge said there were numerous cases of 55-gallon garbage bags in the warehouse and the thieves apparently used those so people could not see what they were dragging out.
“You could see where they had pulled them across the floor and there was actually a window that had been jarred open and a screen had been ripped out from the outside. We are thinking that’s actually how they got in and that’s where they pulled the stuff out,” Aldridge said.
In addition to the already mentioned items, Aldridge said there were cases of Gatorade that were all taken, except for three or four bottles. “We joked that they were so thirsty after pulling everything out that they had to drink all the Gatorade,” Aldridge said. “You know you have to joke about it a little bit to keep yourself sane. You have to try to laugh about it because it’s extremely frustrating. We are all kind of scratching our heads.”
There were also lots of other things taken, including boxes of food and cases of personal hygiene supplies.
“We are just a non-profit. We don’t give money to people; we just give what we have collected for them. It took us years to save up the money to buy those chainsaws and tools so we could help when there is a disaster like a tornado or flood. For the people who did this to be so callous…I mean they just didn’t care,” Aldridge said.
Citizens and area pawnshops are asked to be on the watch for anyone trying to sell any of the stolen items.
Persons with possible tips should contact the Miami Police Department at 918-542-6685.