Burglars looting from flood-affected Pacific Junction homes

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PACIFIC JUNCTION, Iowa (WOWT) -- A dozen suspected looters are behind bars.

Mills County Sheriff’s Deputies cracking down on crime in flood impacted areas.

"Knowing that your neighbor will do that to you,” said Pacific Junction resident, Earl Smith.

In two weeks, deputies say they arrested 12 people suspected of looting abandoned homes in Pacific Junction, Iowa.

"Anybody that does something like that to somebody that is already down-and-out…that’s rotten,” said Earl Smith.

On Friday, seven burglars from Glenwood, Iowa, Council Bluffs, Iowa, and Pacific Junction were arrested on suspicion of breaking in and stealing $5,000 property from the flood-stricken homes.

Five people were arrested for taking more than $10,000 in stolen items just a week before.

"But why? Why would a person do that? It just doesn't make sense to me,” said Earl’s son, Eric Smith.

The Smiths are victims of ongoing looting.

The near-30-year residents say the break-ins began as soon as floodwaters started to recede.

"Somewhere they could wade in,” said Earl.

Earl said burglars snagged his power washer, chainsaw sharpener, and cables.

Eric's $3,500 tool box went missing.

"That's about the most expensive thing that was stolen from me,” said Eric. "It's going to take a lot of money to get that thing fixed...so good luck to them.”

At a time when the future of the railroad town is at a crossroads, looters are breaking things apart.

Eric tells 6 News, the last time tragedy struck - two years ago - the town banded together to pick up the pieces left by a tornado.

"That's the community that we know. We just gather around and help each other out,” said Eric.

Sheriff's deputies found stolen property stashed in spots in Glenwood and Pacific Junction.

Mills County officials are encouraging anyone with missing valuables to call the number on your screen to recover stolen items.