Ariel Zilber, Forrest Hanson, and Matthew Wright, Daily Mail, September 10, 2017
At least 32 people have been arrested across Florida for trying to loot empty businesses and homes that have been evacuated in preparation for Hurricane Irma – 28 alone in Miami, according to local authorities.
Two people burst into an Orlando sporting store and allegedly stole guns, before facing off with SWAT in a standoff.
Shocking videos also emerged of gangs trying to break into stores and take advantage of deserted properties.
Police were called to the scene after witnesses reported a burglary at Academy Sports near the Mall at Millenia in Orlando, WESH reported.
Soon afterward, SWAT team officers arrived when it became clear the looters were allegedly trying to steal guns.
At least one person surrendered while another barricaded himself in the store and refused, according to WFTV.
SWAT officers reportedly used gas to subdue at least one suspect.
Soon afterward, Orlando Police released a statement announcing that officers took two suspects into custody and that the event was ‘peacefully resolved’.
A local utilities company near Orlando is reporting that a number of residents have made disturbing complaints that people posing as utility workers are robbing homeowners at gun point, according to WOFL-TV.
Earlier on Sunday, two groups of looters were caught on camera ransacking two separate sporting goods stores in hurricane-hit South Florida as one alleged looter was shot and at least 12 were arrested, local media reported.
A Broward County sheriff’s deputy shot a teenager and arrested another after they are alleged to have tried to break in to a home in the affluent Fort Lauderdale suburb of Weston at around 3:00am Saturday, NBC 6 TV reported.
Local officials said that deputies responded to the home after the owners, who were out of town, noticed that their surveillance system captured the burglars inside.
A deputy opened fire and shot one suspect, 17, and arrested another, it was reported.
The teenager was rushed to hospital with injuries that are considered non-life-threatening.
Meanwhile, at least eight people were filmed by a television camera breaking into and stealing merchandise from a Fort Lauderdale shoe store as Hurricane Irma pummeled South Florida.
Camera crews from ABC Local 10 filmed the group of men and women breaking into Simon’s Sportswear, an athletic clothing retailer with dozens of locations across South Florida.
Video shows various members of the group entering and exiting the store through a broken window.
Some members of the group leave with merchandise.
ABC Local 10 also reports that a group vandalized a Foot Locker in the city, which is 25 miles north of Miami.
It is not clear whether the two groups were the same or not.
No one shown in the video has been identified.
In midtown Miami, a local television reporter watched as at least a dozen looters undertook what appeared to be a well-coordinated theft of sporting goods at another shop on Sunday.
At least a dozen people were seen walking out of the store with boxes of shoes and other supplies taken from the shop.
Police arrived about an hour after the looting began and took two people into custody, according to NBC 6.
In St. Petersburg, one family who evacuated their home in anticipation of the hurricane was horrified to return briefly and discover that their house was looted, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
The Miami Police Department released a photograph Sunday of ten detained men suspected of looting.
‘Thinking about looting? Ask these guys how that turned out,’ the police department tweeted.
The tweet included the hashtag #stayindoors.
People took to Twitter to condemn the looters and branded them ‘the worst kind of people’.
Meanwhile, Fort Lauderdale police announced the arrest of two alleged looters who broke into six homes overnight Saturday.
Authorities identified the suspects as Ryan Cook and Max Saintvil, both 28 years of age.
The two men face six counts of burglary.
This incident follows a home break-in in Polk County.
Marvell Parkinson, 18, and a 17-year-old boy were arrested by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office for burglarizing an empty Lake Wales, Florida home.
A witness noticed that two suspects were at the back of her neighbor’s home on Friday around 1.45pm on Beverly Drive.
They ran when they noticed her but were taken into custody.
According to the deputies, the 17-year-old suspect had a window punch in his pocket.
He told them that they had walked through the neighborhood until they located a house that had not been boarded up.
Entering the home through the back door, they stole a set of keys and the younger boy opened the garage door for his accomplice.
Parkinson allegedly then tried to use the keys to steal a 2001 Dodge Intrepid but the battery was dead.
‘We want everyone to be safe during the hurricane. And we will not tolerate thieves taking advantage of those evacuating their homes. Looters need to be prepared to go to jail if they try to take advantage of people during a state of emergency,’ said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd in a press release.
Both suspects have criminal histories, including burglary, grand theft and possession of marijuana.
They face multiple charges including burglary of an occupied dwelling during a state of emergency, resisting arrest without violence and unarmed burglary of a residence.
Parkinson was additionally charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
They join 30-year-old Keith Adams who was caught burglarizing Atlantic Hardscapes in St. Lucie County on Saturday.
A member of the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office was patrolling shuttered homes along North U.S. 1 when he spotted Adams.
‘I have said over and over that we will not tolerate looting or price gouging,’ said Sheriff Ken J. Mascara.
‘We have deputies actively patrolling the county, including our beach communities, to ensure the safety and security of your homes and businesses.
‘If you think you are going to take advantage of these evacuated properties, be prepared to spend the storm at the county jail.’