By Donna Thornton/News Editor
People who try to profit from the misfortune of others can expect no mercy from law enforcement, according to Etowah County District Attorney Jimmie Harp and Etowah County Sheriff Todd Entrekin.
Fierce winds and a tornado in northern Etowah County littered many areas with debris such as metal from buildings and roofs, and left some homes or other structures damaged and unoccupied, officials said.
Damaged property still belongs to someone; those who take it are subject to arrest and prosecution. If the dollar amount of property taken is high enough, Harp said he will bring a felony charge. For anyone convicted, “I guarantee you will see a prison door,” Harp said. He said it was especially heartless to victimize people who’ve already been victims of an event like the storms.
Harp said he’s heard complaints of people entering residences left vacant because the owners have sought shelter elsewhere because of damage or because power was out.
“That’s burglary,” Harp said. ‘My office takes this very seriously.”
Harp said scrap metal dealers have been cautioned to follow regulations about getting the proper information from those who want to sell scrap metal, to help ensure it has not been stolen.
State Rep. Craig Ford said while touring some of the county’s hardest hit areas, he stopped in at a scrap metal dealer’s business. Ford said he asked if the business had seen a lot of scrap metal coming in since the storms hit.
The dealer’s response indicates how seriously the district attorney’s office takes scrap metal thefts. Ford said the man told him everyone was so scared of Jimmie Harp they weren’t taking chances on suspicious scrap metal.