In Fort Lauderdale, nine people face charges for looting during Hurricane Irma. Police have arrested several people that were caught on camera looting stores and homes, according to Inside Edition.
Allegedly looters entered a Foot Locker and Cash American Pawn store, stealing footwear and other items, officials said. A video of the incident was shared on social media of the break in.
“Going to prison over a pair of sneakers is a fairly bad life choice. Stay home and look after loved ones and be thankful they are all safe,” Fort Lauderdale Police Chief Rick Maglione said in a tweet announcing the arrests.
In addition to looting, two men were also arrested for allegedly ransacking six houses as the tropical storm ravaged Florida. Florida police released the names of those two men; Ryan Cook and Max Saintvil, both 28 years old. They each face six counts of burglary for allegedly breaking into homes that had been evacuated, according to police reports.
“Anyone who intends to victimize our neighbors during this difficult time.. will be captured and arrested,” Maglione warned that day.
Approximately 19 people were arrested for burglarizing businesses and residences during the storm, officials said.
Miami police also reported arrests for burglaries. In a Facebook post, the Miami Police wrote, “Thinking about looting? Ask these guys how that [turned] out,” sharing a photo of the alleged suspects in a jail cell with the added caption: the warning to “#stayindoors.”
Crime During Disasters
Per Blogs.FindLaw.com, in some states laws make the penalties much harsher for looting and burglary during a crisis such as a natural disaster. For example, in Texas, the maximum penalty for burglary may only be 15 years, but if it occurred during an official state of emergency, the maximum sentence is life in prison.
Other states, such as California or Lousiana may not add on additional years for looting during a crisis, however, they may raise the minimum penalty to ensure that looters are guaranteed time behind bars.
Law enforcement agencies are still investigating and collecting evidence to pursue charges “after the fact,” to any one committing or have committed a crime during this crisis, officials tweeted.
GCE reminds everyone to stay safe and indoors until local officials have lifted the state of emergency.