Thieves target flooded homes of Harvey victims

Some of the only items they had left after Harvey are now gone - thanks to a few thieves. One family lost everything, and now even more.

HOUSTON - Three months after Harvey some survivors are finding themselves becoming victims yet again. The little they had left from the flooding is now being taken by burglars.

It’s down to the studs - the home where Maria Sotolongo and her family of five have laughed, loved and lived for seven years. 

“That’s the entrance to the home," Sotolongo said as she pointed through the wooden studs of her home. 

“I gave birth to two children in this home," Sotolongo said. 

It was a lifetime full of memories.

“Ninety-nine percent of our belongings are gone," Sotolongo said. 

Not much survived the massive flood and the five feet of water that came inside. But an AC unit out back, to their surprise, made it through. 

“They fixed it, so the AC unit was working," Sotolongo said. 

It was, but today, it sits in pieces.

“You can see they used our shovel and all of our tools and they just peeled it apart," Sotolongo said. “That’s what they wanted, the big items.”

She doesn’t know exactly when it happened, but thieves, came in, tore apart the unit, and took off with a generator and tool chest.  

“What else are we going to do and what else are we going to put up with," Sotolongo said. “They had chained it through to the studs in our house.”

They left only the chains behind. 

“They must not have anything, if we have nothing, and they’re doing this to us, they have to have nothing," Sotolongo said. 

Sotolongo knows they’re easy targets, but she also knows that it's a home that’s worth fighting for. 

“I just want to walk away because it’s so hard and then to top this all off again, you have people taking your stuff, it’s super hard, but it’s our home, it is, it’s our home. So we want to rebuild it and take it one day at a time," Sotolongo said. 

Police say you just have to be vigilant - check on your homes, try to add floodlights or landscape lighting outside, and trim back your hedges. Try to make it difficult for people to hide. 

You can also go online. There, you can fill out something called an "Alert Slip" for your address. When you do that, officers on patrol will increase their presence around your home in hopes of deterring potential thieves. 

© 2017 KHOU-TV


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