As residents have left their houses and authorities are busy battling the Valley Fire, Lake County, California, sheriff’s deputies arrested a man they said was plotting to loot abandoned homes, and two others on for allegedly entering disaster zones and impersonating police officers.
Lake County Sheriff’s Lt. Steve Brooks said deputies arrested Royce Sterling Moore, 26, of Lakeport on Tuesday about 5 a.m. on suspicion of possessing burglary tools and controlled substance paraphernalia.
Detectives spotted Moore and a woman dressed in black and acting “nervously” at a closed intersection of Bottle Rock Road and Highway 29 in Kelseyville, which were closed because of the Valley Fire.
They found gloves, a black bandana, a methamphetamine smoking pipe and backpack with a broken BB gun in the car. Inside the backpack were pliers, channel locks and a cordless drill, which the deputies surmised were to commit a burglary.
Authorities on Alert for Looters as Valley Fire Rages
In addition, sheriff's deputies arrested on Tuesday a 60-year-old antique remodeler from Clearlake Oaks on suspicion of impersonating an officer and entering a disaster area with a concealed firearm, the Lake County jail log showed.
And on Monday, Brooks said that deputies arrested Steven Worley of Whispering Pines, 26, who was wearing a yellow California Highway Patrol hat and a prior criminal history. He was driving around in an active fire zone that was under evacuation orders.
Worley told deputies that he was trying to find his mother's house, but then couldn't really explain why he was wearing the hat, Brooks said. When deputies searched his vehicle, they found six cell phones, a wallet that didn't belong to Worley, a locked safe and an envelope containing obsidian, or volcanic glass. Worley said he didn't realize he couldn't be driving there, but deputies ended up arresting him for theft during a state of emergency, wearing ID to impersonate a police officer and destroying objects of archaeological value.
The Valley Fire has burned 70,000 acres since Saturday.