While many hunkered down to ride out the storm surges from Hurricane Irma, some were trying to profit from the chaos.
Miami PD had their hands full with looters breaking into stores, but the police proved ready for the challenge. Miami PD released a photo of a dozen or so people in jail with a tweet saying, “Thinking about looting? Ask these guys how that turned out. #stayindoors.”
The looting was, and is, widespread in the areas affected by the hurricane, and police departments are proving to be well-prepared for the chaos.
Local 10 News reported that nine people were arrested following a video their news camera crews released of individual breaking into a Simon’s Sportswear store in Fort Lauderdale. They also went on to rob a nearby Foot Locker and Cash America Pawn store.
Within hours, Fort Lauderdale police had the criminals in handcuffs. Rick Maglione, Fort Lauderdale police chief, ridiculed the thieves. “Going to prison over a pair of sneakers is a fairly bad life choice. Stay home and look after your loved ones and be thankful they are all safe.”
The Broward Sheriff’s Office posted a tweet saying that any and all criminals would be found and held accountable: “ATTENTION LOOTERS; Every incident will be investigated. Evidence collected will be used to pursue charges after the fact. #HurricaneIrma.”
Pembroke Pines Police Department released their own twitter warning saying, “Any looters who come to Pembroke Pines will be greeted by our officers. Choose wisely and stay home.”
Anticipating the looting, many South Florida police officials vowed to have their officers roaming the streets looking for criminals. But with the high winds, officials have been cautious about sending their officers into areas that could prove dangerous as the storms rage on.
According to the New York Post, Miami Mayor Carlos Gimenez imposed a 12-hour curfew on Sunday due to the storms and flooding, saying it was “for the safety of our residents.” Curfews are often imposed during natural disasters to prevent residents from going out during dangerous times and to give officers reasonable cause for stopping anyone who might be a looting suspect.
Miami-Dade Police Department sent out a tweet notifying residents of the curfew and their intent to enforce it: “@MayorGimenez has issued a curfew effective 7PM, 9/10 until 7AM, 9/11. #MDPD will FULLY enforce this curfew #HurricaneIRma #MDPDprotecting.”
Officials stated that more than two dozen people have been arrested in Palm Beach County alone for violating the curfew on Saturday. Apart from the misdemeanor charge for violating curfew, some of the arrested face drunk-driving and drug possession charges.
The looting in South Florida during Hurricane Irma is an unfortunate similarity to the looting that occurred in Houston during the flooding. According to the Daily Caller, people were expected to do most of the stealing as the flooding and storms began to recede.
Though the theft of food, water, and other supplies is a bit more understandable during times of disaster, the theft of luxury items and nonessentials bears no excuse. Those in the Local 10 News video were looking to make off with valuable sportswear during a time of crisis.
Thankfully, Florida’s police departments are ready to bring justice to these looters and make the streets safer for those trying to ride out the storm.