Looters’ Caches Popping Up in New Orleans

Brett Martel, AP, Sept. 19

NEW ORLEANS—It was like a modern-day treasure map—a computerized diagram of neighborhoods with codes marking the addresses where National Guard soldiers came upon caches of goods taken by looters in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

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In the chaos that followed Katrina’s flooding, looters targeted everything from grocery stores to gun shops to trendy women’s clothing boutiques. Now that the city is mostly empty of civilians, military patrols making house-to-house checks for remaining residents or the dead are finding some of the hiding places for the stolen goods.

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The guardsmen recently thought they had caught a looter coming back into town to load his stash onto a moving truck. Inside his home, the soldiers found automobile parts stacked 8 feet high, a new off-road motorcycle and various electronics, including a video game system with a pawn shop ticket still attached.

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In other homes, McGowan’s unit found automatic teller machines that had been broken open and emptied of cash and bags of ammunition still packaged in 500-round bundles, not the individual boxes of 20 rounds usually sold over the counter.

A smashed-open video poker machine, likely taken from a bar, was left lying on the sidewalk of an Uptown residential street.

In a church-run assisted living home close to a heavily looted Wal-Mart in the lower Garden District, a team of guardsmen found new bicycles, stereos and clothing. Someone associated with the church, who refused to give his name, said at least seven rooms in the four-story residence were filled with goods believed to be stolen.

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