NewsLocal News


'You need to leave': Claremore residents on high alert after looting attempts

Posted at 6:25 PM, May 29, 2024

CLAREMORE, Okla. — As if picking up the pieces of their lives scattered around their yards wasn’t enough, the people of Claremore now have to be on guard against people trying to take advantage.

Charles Jennings said it seems like his neighborhood, home to many elderly residents, may already be a target.

“There was guys coming in saying, an hour later, ‘we’re chasing the storm,’ and I’m like, ‘You’re in a beat up red truck, and you don’t look like you live here,’" said Jennings. "I said, ‘You need to leave the neighborhood now.'”

Rogers County Sheriff Scott Walton addressed concerns of looting in the county on May 28.

He said one man, Koby Thompson, was arrested for planning to loot with a group of people.

Claremore police officers proactively arrested him as he was leaving his home to commit the crime while having a mask on and tools in his possession, according to an arrest affidavit.

“We were able to intercept him. He did have lots of evidence of what he was trying to do," Claremore Police Chief Steve Cox said. "The last report, we think it’s numerous burglaries he’s going to be responsible for.”

Jennings sheltered in his nearly 100-year-old brick home with his family as the high winds whipped around his town.
He served four tours in the U.S. military and said this weekend was one of the scariest moments of his life.

"It just felt like the air and everything was sucked out of the house, and my eardrums were filling up like I was getting pressurized," said Jennings. "I thought the top of the house was gone. So when I went up the stairs, see it still there, I was like, okay, we're in tact. Then I went outside and saw all the devastation, people in the streets.”

His backyard is his biggest worry, and for that, Jennings knows he's lucky.

The kids' playset in the backyard was crushed by an uprooted tree. A trampoline was thrown across the lawn, but his house only suffered a few minor bruises.

Because of that luck, Jennings has been checking in with his neighbors and watching out for them.

"People are coming trying to poke the perimeter, to see if they can get in and get what they want," said Jennings. "One of the neighbors said that a generator was stolen already."

It's hard for Jennings to comprehend what would lead someone to prey on such a vulnerable community.

“You’re taking advantage of people that are in need, that are devastated, that have never experienced any trauma before, so I mean a lot of people are going to have PTSD from it," he said. "And on top of that, you’re trying to steal what little they have?”

Rogers County officials caution everyone in the area to vet any contractors they work with before hiring to avoid getting taken advantage of.

Stay in touch with us anytime, anywhere --