Whenever chaos breaks out, whether it is natural disasters, riots, protests, or times when law enforcement is stretched too thin, it can be assumed that criminals will use other people’s misfortune to steal their possessions. In the aftermath of Hurricane Ian in Florida, at least four people were accused of looting.
While Florida attempts to recover, thousands are left without power, and now people also need to deal with the theft of their possessions. Lee Country sheriff’s deputies have arrested four people for burglary of an unoccupied structure during a state of emergency, 33-year-old Omar Mejia Ortiz, 26-year-old Valerie Celeste Salcedo Mena, 20-year-old Brandon Mauricio Araya, and 20-year-old Steve Eduardo Sanchez Araya. The four suspected looters were released from jail after posting bond.
According to FoxNews.com:
The arrests came after Lee County issued a strict curfew and “zero-tolerance” policy for looting. The southwest Florida county was devastated by Hurricane Ian, prompting officials to issue warnings after burglars were spotted ransacking homes in Fort Myers.
“When law enforcement was unable to respond because of weather conditions, there was a break-in on Cleveland Avenue River,” Lee County Manager Roger Dejarlais said in a press conference last week.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued his own warnings against looters seeking to plunder abandoned homes and businesses.
“Don’t even think about looting,” DeSantis said in a press conference. “Don’t even think about taking advantage of people in this vulnerable situation.”
“When I say zero tolerance, zero tolerance means we will hunt you down, track you down, and you’re going to jail. If you’re lucky,” DeSantis warned.
“Florida is a law and order state,” the Republican governor tweeted the following day. “Looting and lawlessness will not be tolerated.”
DeSantis doesn’t want a situation similar to the 2020 BLM riots to commence, where looting was prolonged due to officials fearing cracking down on looters. Hurricanes have had a long history of looters utilizing the time of crisis and chaos to commit crimes.
Looters make the terrible situation of a hurricane worse for everyone. As a result of their crimes, people are afraid to evacuate their homes, even if that is the safest option for them, because they’re too afraid that looters will ransack their empty homes.
Ron DeSantis cracking down on looters will hopefully denture them from continuing their crimes during a time when Florida is attempting to repair billions of dollars of damage, and people are attempting to figure out what survived the hurricane and what did not.