JOPLIN, Mo. (KMOX/AP) – The Missouri National Guard reports four of its soldiers stole electronics from a WalMart store while helping recovery efforts after last year’s tornado in Joplin.
The Guard released records on the incident to the Joplin Globe on Tuesday after refusing to release them last week, claiming it was exempt from the state’s open records law.
In the 13 page release the National Guard stated that two specialists took hand-held Nintendo video game players valued at $138 and $169, and a third specialist took a Kodak Easyshare camera priced at about $115. The sergeant took a notebook-size Nintendo video game player, some Xbox games and a headset, with an estimated combined retail value of $354.
The Globe reports that the Guard said the three specialists and a sergeant admitted taking electronics.
The sergeant told the investigator that he had spoken to someone he believed to be a WalMart employee about what would happen to the merchandise on the floor of the ruined store and was told that it would be destroyed. The sergeant acknowledged that he later was asked by the specialist working with him if it would be OK to take an item; he told him it would be since it was just going to be discarded.
The thefts came to light when a female specialist saw what had happened and reported the matter to higher-ups.
The Guard has not release the soldiers’ names.
They were part of a team of 16 soldiers assigned to help after the WalMart was destroyed by the tornado, which killed 161 people.
An investigating officer recommended the soldiers be demoted but the records do not indicate what punishment they received.
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