PLANTATION, Fla. — Police arrested dozens of people accused of looting hurricane-shuttered stores around Fort Lauderdale as brutal Hurricane Irma bore down on the beachside city 30 miles north of Miami.
Fort Lauderdale police said Monday that they have arrested 19 people for burglarizing businesses and residences. On Sunday, police said nine people had been arrested on suspicion of looting a pawn shop and nearby shoe store.
Two teens were arrested for breaking into six homes Saturday night as the storm intensified. The Broward County sheriff’s office said the two teens were arrested in Weston, about 35 miles north of Miami, after evacuated homeowners, watching their houses remotely, saw the teens breaking in. One of the teens was shot and wounded by a deputy, the sheriff’s office said.
“Going to prison over a pair of sneakers is a fairly bad life decision,” Fort Lauderdale police Chief Rick Maglione said in a statement. “Stay home and look after your loved ones and be thankful they are all safe.”
In Stuart, police arrested a man accused of burglarizing a home after the owner evacuated to a school, according to an affidavit. Rashaad Kelly, 20, was arrested, charged with burglary and with causing more than $1,000 in damage during a state of emergency, police said.
Miami-Dade County had yet to receive a single looting call as of 3 p.m. Sunday afternoon, said detective Marjorie Eloi, who was stationed Sunday at the county emergency operations center.
“Thankfully we’ve got great residents in Miami-Dade County,” Eloi said.
Looting is a major concern for residents during mandatory evacuations, and a reason some people refuse to leave their property behind. In many disasters, police and National Guard troops patrol the streets to help allay such fears, but Irma’s strong winds have prompted some public safety agencies to temporarily withdraw from the streets.
Broward County on Saturday issued a curfew intended to reduce the risk of looting, and Miami-Dade on Sunday put in place a similar curfew effective at 7 p.m., when the storm’s winds are forecast to begin abating.