Relief workers targeted by thieves, thousands of dollars of equipment stolen

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NORMAN, Okla.-- As thousands of helping hands descended on Cleveland County to support storm victims, a few thieves helped themselves to the volunteers' equipment.

Jerry Falling said, "This 5,000-watt generator, they took two of these."

Falling is a volunteer with the Churches of Christ Disaster Response Team.

When he saw the devastation following the May storms, he knew he wanted to help.

He joined thousands of other volunteers from 25 states and made the trek across the country to stand by those storm victims.

However, things had to be put on hold after thieves targeted the group's trailer.

Overnight, thousands of dollars' worth of supplies were stolen from the trailer, which was parked at the Alameda Church of Christ in Norman.

In total, the crooks stole more than $6,000 worth of items, ranging from generators to power washers and wheel barrels.

He said, "First thing you want to say is, why? Why would someone come do that? You feel violated almost because this is stuff we use to actually go out and serve people."

The supplies were tied to the bottom of the trailer with a cable.

The suspects simply cut the line and moved the items into their truck.

Falling said, "They knew exactly what they wanted."

Since May 21, 200 Churches of Christ Disaster Relief Teams have put in more than 30,000 volunteer hours.

They say the necessary equipment is crucial for them to be able to keep going.

He said, "They're very useful to our job sites and by missing these items, it will actually cut down some of our work time or possibly make it so we can't even reach some job sites."

While team leaders are asking for the equipment back, they say this bump in the road won't keep them from lending a hand.

Falling said, "We've got volunteers coming in and out and we will continue to press on and do what we can."

The group has filed a police report and officials are trying to track down the missing equipment.

If you know any information about the theft, call Norman Crime Stoppers at (405) 366-7867.