This story was updated at 11 a.m. on Friday, April 24, 2020, to state the tornado relief items were redistributed to residents in need.
Hamilton County Sheriff's Office detectives seized at least 54 Red Cross totes, an unopened generator and numerous other tornado relief supplies on Thursday that were allegedly stolen in a conspiracy by two managers of the Auburn Hills mobile home park.
Steven West, 64, and Kimberly West, 49, were arrested Thursday and have both been charged with theft over $60,000 and criminal conspiracy to commit theft over $60,000. They are expected to appear in court on April 28.
Detectives received a complaint from community members on Tuesday, according to Hamilton County court records.
The following day, deputies went to a home in the 8900 block of Piney Lane, where they saw some of the donations through the front door window, court records state. As they walked around the trailer, property manager Kimberly West approached them and "spontaneously stated, 'We were planning to distribute that stuff to the residents today!' without being asked."
West then told a maintenance worker to unlock the door to retrieve some of the items, according to court records, but it was screwed shut.
"[The detective] then observed the maintenance worker unlock the trailer door with a power drill," court records state.
Kimberly West and another property manager, Steven West, told detectives they were using the management office, which is located in a separate building, as a staging area and had been directing all persons bringing relief supplies that they would have to leave the relief items at the main office so they could distribute them to residents, according to court records.
Kimberly West continuously told deputies that they had been distributing the items to the community, the deputies wrote in court records.
But detectives wrote, "Kimberly's statements seemed deceptive due to the vast number of items observed stashed in the office trailer and due to the fact the tornado had occurred over a week and a half ago ... yet these items were still compiled within the office trailer."
One of the items detectives found hoarded away was a 5,000-watt generator that was still inside of its original packaging, documents show.
"Steven West stated he did not know what to do with the generator since it was given as a loan to the trailer park. Detectives observed this statement seemed deceptive since the vast majority of Auburn Hills residents were without power and in desperate need of a generator," court records allege.
After obtaining consent to search the Piney Lane trailer and the management office, detectives found numerous items donated by several local businesses, churches and other individual organizations.
HCSO said Friday morning that officials, along with Tennessee state troopers and Hamilton County maintenance personnel, redistributed the tornado relief items to the mobile home park tenants.
The relief items filled a large box truck, along with the bed of a dump truck, a release states. The relief items included sanitary supplies, hygiene supplies, diapers, food, water, a generator, Red Cross packages and other assorted necessities.
Officials said tenants claimed the items quickly and within an hour and a half all the contents of both trucks were emptied.
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Seized items include:
- 54 Red Cross totes and food containers
- 58 shovels and rakes
- Numerous other garden tools
- 162 cases of bottled of water
- Salvation Army cleaning kits
- A generator
- A large cooking grill
- Propane tanks
- Baby diapers
- COVID-19 masks
- Toilet paper
- Paper towels
- Trash bags