Scavengers target River Forest flood victims

July 28, 2010 (RIVER FOREST, Ill.)

Scavengers are carting away belongings that were placed in front or back yards to dry out after last weekend's storms. They were not trash, according to Jack O'Brien, whose family's home was flooded with 5-feet of water.

"All the memories, all the childhood decorations for Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving, they're all gone," said Jack O'Brien, flood victim

O'Brien said items he tried to salvage were placed under tents on the front lawn to dry out. All the trash went to the curb. O'Brien said scavengers didn't see the difference and tried to take it all.

"My first night out I was sitting in the front with a stick looking out the window. I chased out probably 20 to 30 people off the front yard," said O'Brien.

Property damage is widespread in River Forest, as are incidents of scavengers picking through property.

"I noticed a truck driving by and two fellows hopped out of the back of pickup truck and in less than five minutes picked it up and drove away," said John Rosenquist, flood victim

"Opportunistic people tend to appear and through the course of people leaving stuff out will take anything or will take items that are left outside without permission," said Sgt. Michael Thornley, River Forest Police

Sgt. Thornley said police have received more than a dozen calls about scavengers. He said only licensed trash haulers can legally take away discarded items and scavengers can be fined.

"If they tell you to go, go. If they tell you to stay, show respect. Because you're going through their belongings," said O'Brien.

River Forest has arranged for extra trash pickup Wednesday, Thursday of this week and next Wednesday as well.

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