Suspected looters arrested in Yorba Linda neighborhood hit by wildfire

Suspected looters arrested in Yorba Linda neighborhood hit by wildfire

9 December 2008

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USA — The two women were found with copper pipes stashed in their van, police say. Officials suspect the pipes were taken from houses burned in the Freeway Complex blaze.

Just weeks after wildfires ripped through Yorba Linda and destroyed 118 homes, suspected looters have been found in one of the devastated neighborhoods, police said today.

Two women were arrested after police found copper pipes in their car about midnight Monday, said Sgt. Bill Smyser of the Brea police, which patrols Yorba Linda. Police suspect the pipes were taken from the houses in the area burned in last month’s Freeway Complex fire, Smyser said.
 “This is the first incident of looting of burned homes that I’ve actually heard of,” Smyser said.

A neighbor living on Dorinda Road called police about a “suspicious vehicle that did not belong in the area,” Smyser said.

Police said that when they responded, they found two women inside a 2001 Dodge van and found copper pipes stashed in the back of the van. Police said they also found a switchblade and drug paraphernalia.
 Police arrested Gwendolyn Smith, 36, of San Bernardino and Elisha Haas, 19, of Highland on suspicion of possession of stolen property, Smyser said.

Most of Yorba Linda’s burned-down houses have been razed by insurance companies and have fences around them, Smyser said. In the meantime, he said, “neighbors are keeping a good eye out on the area.”

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