NORMAN — Cleveland County Sheriff’s deputies arrested two men last week for stealing scrap metal and copper from the Newalla disaster area.
Around 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, a witness reported seeing Jonathan Robert Muise, 21, and Johnny Carl Harris, 49, digging through debris piles in the Woodlands addition. The neighborhood was damaged in the May 19 tornado.
Deputies were told the men were pulling out copper wire and salvageable items from debris piles. A witness told dispatchers the men were seen in a silver Chevrolet pickup.
As a deputy was responding to the incident, the deputy saw the pickup heading westbound in the 17000 block of East Indian Hills Road. The deputy noticed the pickup bed was filled with scrap metal.
The deputy conducted a traffic stop and questioned Muise who was driving and his passenger, Harris, about the scrap metal. During a thorough investigation, the men admitted to taking copper and scrap metal for the past three days from the disaster area.
Muise and Harris told the deputy they intended to take the metal and make a profit from it. Both men were arrested for disturbing a disaster area and booked into the Cleveland County Detention Center. Formal charges are pending.
Cleveland County Sheriff Joe Lester said stealing from tornado victims won’t be tolerated in Cleveland County.
“Anybody caught taking items that don’t belong to them from neighborhoods that were ravaged in the May tornadoes will be arrested and jailed,” Lester said. “The residents in these areas are trying to salvage their belongings and rebuild their lives.”