HEARTLAND FLOOD: Flood victims find themselves victims of vandalism

BELLEVUE, Neb. (WOWT) - After two weeks of being forced to stay away from their flooded home, one Bellevue couple returned to discover they were victimized by more than the water.

After salvaging what he could on Sunday, Pat Burke returned to his Paradise Lakes home Tuesday for more and found burglars had broken into the flooded rental house.

"Kicked the window in, broke the glass out. Went int through here," he explained.

Burke found his wife's painkiller prescription gone, some tools missing and kitchen knives stuck in the walls.

"End up throwing in the wall here and there. One stuck there, one stuck over there," he said.

The burglary victim called police but was told an officer wouldn't respond to investigate.

"There aren't going to be fingerprints to process or DNA evidence, that type of thing we would normally expect, and it's putting our officers in harm's way. Because of the flooding, there's a lot of contaminants in the area," Lt. Andy Jashinske with the Bellevue Police Department said.

Burke knows the fear of flood contamination and wears a mask in the house.

The family said they've lost almost everything in the flood, and the break-in and vandalism rubbed salt in the wound.

Annie Burke said the thieves stole her rubber boots. Unfamiliar tennis shoes were in their place.

"They took my boots and left their shoes behind," she said.

While residents stop recovery efforts in Paradise Lakes by 8 p.m., Bellevue Police patrol 24-seven.

"If we see a crime that's occurring while we are out there we are going to handle it," Jashinske said.

The Burkes said they hope the burglars and vandals will be caught.

"I work my tail off, he works his tail off and he works his tail off, and what's left in our disaster they steal from us," Annie Burke said.

Residents said the owner of Paradise Lakes has not provided private security to watch the 250 mobile homes.

Nearby Green Acres hired private security for around-the-clock patrols.