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Man pleads in wind storm looting charge

WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — A second man charged with looting in a storm-damaged shopping center that has now been demolished pleads guilty.

Christopher Neal pleaded guilty in the 78th District Court to engaging in organized criminal activity of theft and was given a 10-year sentence suspended to four years of probation. Another of the three men arrested that day pleaded guilty in February to a charge of theft of metals.

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On Aug. 19, 2023, an officer was checking a shopping center on Seymour Highway after it was damaged by a massive wind storm. Police had received several calls about people stealing from the damaged complex.

While checking the buildings, the officer noticed several pieces of copper wire that appeared to have been cut for ease of handling. The officer did not find anyone in the building and cleared the scene.

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A few minutes later, the officer drove back by and saw a man walking from the building. As the officer passed by, the man quickly got in his pickup and tried to leave. As he was leaving, the truck got hung up on a piece of debris. A large amount of copper wire was found in the bed of the truck, a wire the officer said was next to the building earlier.

Three people were detained. One told the officer they were working on the property, removing copper wire to clean it up. A representative from the building said the three men did not have permission to be in the building and valued the cut copper wire at $1,000.

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