Looting Reported at Fertilizer Plant Explosion Site Near Waco, Texas

Thursday, 18 Apr 2013 12:25 PM

By Megan Anderle

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People taking advantage of bad circumstances for personal gain is an unfortunate reality of any national tragedy, and the explosion near Waco, Texas is no exception; looters seized items from abandoned homes near the fertilizer plant that exploded Wednesday.

Dozens of homes were leveled in the area surrounding West Fertilizer Co., about 20 miles north of Waco, with as many as 15 people killed and 160 injured, according to media reports.

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The fertilizer plant leveled homes on four blocks with 50 to 75 houses, an apartment complex with about 50 units that one state police officer said was reduced to "a skeleton," a middle school, and the West Rest Haven Nursing Home, according to the New York Daily News. Looters had free-range to steal from any of these areas.

Waco Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton said he could confirm at least one instance early Wednesday night of looting but was not aware of any arrests at this point.

“There has been a small amount of looting,” Swanton said. “We are securing that neighborhood the best we can.”

He added that homes are far more secure now than they were on Wednesday, calling the instance an "isolated incident."

“[The looting] was something they dealt with, and it is very secure in the neighborhoods now. Homes are secure," Swanton said.

Officials told a local Dallas-Fort Worth CBS that they were unsure about the nature of the looting or how many individuals were involved.

“Whether they’re going into homes or just pilfering off the street, things maybe they’re finding, I don’t know,” Swanton said.

On top of securing the area by shutting down local rail freight service, nearby utilities, and restricting flights over the area, officials are focusing their efforts on search and recovery, and some locals may still be trapped in the rubble from the massive blast.

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Officials have not yet figured out the cause of the explosion that has decimated the community, but there is no indication the blast is related to terrorism, an intelligence official told CNN.

"Nothing at this point indicates we have had criminal activity, but we are not ruling that out," said Swanton.

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