BY B.G. GREGG
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Despite rumors that looters were hitting evacuated homes and businesses in the Tristate, police said Wednesday they had no confirmed accounts of criminal activity.
Nevertheless, local law enforcement officials and the National Guard increased patrols in evacuated areas.
''The overwhelming majority of calls we receive pertaining to looting or questionable activity turns out to be owners of the property returning to check on the property or remove some of the items inside,'' said Lt. Tim Schoch of the Cincinnati Police Division.
In the East End, many people slept in cars and vans near their flooded homes, prepared to challenge any would-be criminals.
''I left my doors and windows open to let the water run through, but now I'm scared to death of looters,'' said Betty Zink, 43.
Lt. Schoch said police had stepped up patrols and were using the Volunteer Surveillance Team, a network of citizens, to watch evacuated areas.
In Clermont County, deputies were patrolling with boats. ''There have been no reports of looting and no arrests made,'' said Dan Wylie, a spokesman with Clermont County's Public Information Office.
New Richmond Mayor Jack Gooding said police in boats have been chasing people out of the evacuated area, but he doesn't know whether those people intended to loot.
''We don't know the good guys from the bad guys, so we had to come up with a no-exceptions approach,'' Mayor Gooding said.
Kentucky State Police Lt. Terry Evans said it would be tough for looters to prosper in Falmouth. ''We have so many people down there, if there is looting, it would be very minimal,'' he said.
Dearborn County Sheriff David Wismann, who doubled patrols Wednesday, said the water was too high to loot. ''We may get some looting after flood waters drop and looters have a chance to get into stores,'' he said.
Looting during a natural disaster is common. Scott W. Allen, psychologist for the Metro-Dade Police Department in Florida, said looting was prevalent there after Hurricane Andrew in 1992.
Mr. Allen said many with ''anti-social personality disorders'' see victims of a natural disaster as easy pickings. ''People who are doing the looting tend to look at people as just objects,'' he said.
''Because people are extraordinarily vulnerable at this time, it makes their life task of manipulation that much easier.''
Enquirer reporters Dana DiFilippo, Steve Hoffman and Sheila McLaughlin contributed to this article.