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5 arrested for stealing from Kentucky tornado victims

When state troopers and local deputies converged on the area, they found the group "in motion," towing several damaged vehicles and attempting to leave the area.

GRAVES COUNTY, Ky. — Five people were arrested after deputies say they were caught stealing property and cars from people in an area that was devastated by last week's deadly tornado tragedy.

Kentucky was hit the hardest when deadly storms and multiple tornadoes ripped through six different states on Friday, Dec. 10. One of those tornadoes flattened the highly populated areas of Mayfield and Bowling Green, along with many rural areas.

RELATED: NWS: Tornado that hit Mayfield, Dawson Springs upgraded to EF-4

Mayfield is located in Graves County, where deputies arrested five people who are accused of stealing from tornado victims.

Graves County deputies were tipped off about several people, who appeared to be working in a group, rummaging through people's property in an area that was "particularly hit hard by the tornado and resulted in deaths," according to the Graves County Sheriff Jon Hayden.

Credit: AP
In this aerial photo, destruction from a recent tornado is seen in downtown Mayfield, Ky., Sunday, Dec. 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Deputies were also told the suspects were loading up vehicles that were destroyed by the tornado.

When state troopers and local deputies converged on the area, they found the group "in motion," towing several damaged vehicles and attempting to leave the area.

December 18, 2021 Subject: Five suspects arrested in storm ravaged neighborhood. On Friday afternoon, Graves Sheriff’s...

Posted by Graves County Sheriff's Office on Saturday, December 18, 2021

Hayden said the group had a variety of personal items belonging to tornado victims, including some household goods, new shoes, muddy change, copper wiring and other items. They were towing several vehicles that were owned by tornado victims who had either been displaced by the tornado, were in the hospital or had died.

"Statements from some of the suspects contradicted each other as to having permission from the homeowners. Some of the claims made by suspects were disproven after sheriff’s deputies were able to find and question the homeowners of where property was taken," Hayden said.

Kevin Stowe, 55, of Union City, Tennessee, was arrested for theft of an automobile and theft of a motor vehicle registration plate. 

Authorities said the car he was driving had a stolen license plate on it. He also had more than $120,000 in cash with him.

Troopers and deputies reportedly found syringes containing methamphetamine in a vehicle being driven by another member of the group, Linda Morris, 52, of Dresden, Tennessee. Morris also allegedly had copper wiring and a brand new pair of UGG boots that were stolen from a storm victim's home. 

She was arrested for theft by unlawful taking of automobiles, possession of meth, operating on a suspended license and theft by unlawful taking of personal property. 

A third person who was arrested, Kaitlyn Moore, 29, was also found in possession of meth.

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The final two people arrested were Ronnie White, 57, and Lynne Bailey, 56, both of Hickman, Kentucky. They were arrested on suspicion of theft by unlawful taking of automobiles. 

All five suspects were taken to out-of-county jails. Hayden said the case remains under investigation.