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Stillman Valley Man Arrested For Looting Fairdale Tornado Donations

A Stillman Valley man who came to help a Fairdale tornado victim allegedly stayed to loot donations.

DeKalb County Sheriff officials say Richard Burtch initially came into Fairdale to help a family member clean up their house that had been destroyed during the tornado. However, Burtch kept coming back and appeared to gather more supplies for himself after the debris was removed.

DeKalb County Sheriff Roger Scott says Burtch was banned from re-entering the disaster recovery area in Fairdale since authorities were made aware of the situation. Burtch will still be banned if he is released on bail.

Scott says he would only be permitted to enter the area after public access restrictions are lifted.  

"I would think that he probably wouldn't want to - the residents are pretty unhappy, obviously, with what he attempted to do," Scott said. 

Scott says Burtch was initially allowed because he was supposed to volunteer, and he abused that priviledge. But Burtch's situation won't ruin it for the others who genuinely want to help in the relief effort. 

"There's so many good people and good people who are working hard to get things straightened out for the residents of Fairdale that we're not going to make it more hard or put a hardship on them," Scott said. 

Burtch was charged with felony looting and attempted looting. He is being held on a $50,000 bond. 

Looting is a Class 4 felony. Burtch could face probation or up to three years in prison.

All supplies were collected and returned to the Fairdale residents. 

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