New Orleans Katrina evacuee’s new home robbed four times

Published 4:35 pm Friday, October 6, 2006

Evelle Thomas thought things couldn’t get much worse than losing everything she owned to Hurricane Katrina. That was before her new home in McComb was robbed four times.

Thomas settled in South Mississippi with her four children after losing her New Orleans home to the Aug. 29 storm.

“I’m from the murder capital of the world, and I never experienced anything like this,” Thomas said. “People think New Orleans is bad. This place is bad.”

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Thieves have taken clothes, shoes, jewelry, electronics and other items that the family accumulated following the storm.

“This is worse than Katrina,” Thomas said. “Katrina was a godly thing. There was nothing that could have been done to prevent it. What’s happening to me shouldn’t be happening. This is senseless.”

Thomas, along with her children Tyrone Thomas, 14, Charles Thomas, 12, Ronald Clayton, 7 and Evelle Thomas Dillion, 1, came to McComb with just the clothes on their backs.

For nearly four months, they stayed in a motel room, all the while searching for housing, and having little luck in a rental market choked with people displaced by the storm.

“I may have been living in a hotel, but I was going to work every day,” Thomas said. “I wanted to provide a stable environment for my children.”

She did. She bought a house in east McComb.

On Dec. 12 — Tyrone’s 14th birthday — the family moved into a six-bedroom, three-bathroom home on Avenue D, very different from the cramped hotel room.

“I have a nice house, and I worked hard for it,” Thomas said. “I don’t get welfare or child support. I earned this.”

In late May, nearly six months after the family moved in, burglars kicked in the front door and stole a PlayStation video game system and video games.

Intruders kicked in the front door again the first week of August, about a week before school began, and took school uniforms, tennis shoes and Tyrone’s new clothes.

She figures the bandits made off with more than $6,000 worth of the family’s belongings.

Breaking the news to her children, who were excited about going to school in a new city and meeting new friends, was devastating, Thomas recalled.

“How do you explain to your children that they can’t go to school because someone stole their clothes?” she said.

Burglars also took Thomas’ two-karat diamond engagement ring and a safe containing about $400 in cash.

Nearly a month after she reported the second break-in, Thomas caught someone trying to break into her 2000 GMC Yukon.

In late September, burglars kicked in two rear doors and entered her home. Thomas hasn’t mustered up the strength to search for missing items.

“I’m tired of being victimized,” she said. ’I might as well leave the door open. … My head is hurting. My hair is falling out, I’m just miserable.”

Thomas believes that her family is being targeted because they are from New Orleans.

Police Chief Billie Hughes said police patrols have been beefed up in the area, and officers are keeping a close eye on Thomas’ property.

There are no suspects in the burglaries, and officials are uncertain if they are related to other break-ins in the area.