The City of Houston and surrounding counties aren’t playing around with looters taking advantage of the floods caused by Harvey.
“People displaced or harmed in this storm aren’t going to be easy prey,” Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said, noting that a life sentence could be carried by burglarizing a house under Texas law. Prosecutors said at least 14 suspected looters and Brazoria County declared a curfew in regions for Tuesday night.
“Anyone who attempts to benefit from the storm to break into businesses or homes should know that they’re likely to feel the full weight of the law,” Ogg said. “Offenders will be processed without any delay around the clock. ”
The Montgomery County District Attorney’s office submitted a warning on Monday that any looters, thieves or burglars caught victimizing area residents would be arrested and served up mandatory jail time, according to the Houston Chronicle.
“(District Attorney Brett) Ligon announced today that his office will look for jail or prison time in each and every forthcoming situation where the defendant stands charged with theft (looting), burglary, robbery, or any similar crime committed during Hurricane Harvey,” the DA’s office posted on Facebook. “Leniency and probation will be off the table for these offenses committed during this time. ”
According to Montgomery County officials, ldquo & state law;allows for punishment ranges for offenses committed during a declared disaster event. ”
Ligon also commented about the need to enforce the law.
“[L] aw-enforcement and first responder efforts have been tremendous in our County these last couple days and they need to remain focused,” Ligon said in a statement. “We can support their decisions to close down and immediately arrest suspected criminals and stand behind all our agencies. ”
Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said during a news conference Tuesday that robbers were apprehended and ldquo a &;handful” of looters were taken into custody. He didn’t say have been arrested on charges.
Acevedo says he’s spoken with the Harris County district attorney’s office to guarantee anyone suspected of looting is prosecuted. He says that he’ll lobby judges and prosecutors to secure the punishment Texas law allows.
State law allows for penalty enhancements for crimes like burglary and vandalism that happen during a state of disaster.
Clyde Cain of the Louisiana Cajun Navy’s described a chaotic scene outside. The Cajun Navy is a group of volunteers who formed in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina. They have dispatched people to assist during Harvey.
Cain says some people are currently posing as rescuers and are robbing people. He says that the Cajun Navy is being careful when stores that may be the target of looters are approached by them.
The sherriff for Harris County also issued a caveat for looters on Twitter.
“To crooks out there, be warned! No looting & burglaries. We won’t have it. My prison is open and you will be arrested & charged,” Gonzalez posted on Monday morning.
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