Florida police report looting as Hurricane Irma battered the state

WABC-TV(FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.) — As Hurricane Irma’s eye was crossing over central Florida on Sunday, some looters were caught trying to take advantage of the frightening situation.

Florida law enforcement played double duty saving the stranded and needy while also arresting alleged thieves for swiping goods from businesses and homes after one of the largest evacuations in Florida’s history.

In Broward County, two 17-year-olds from Weston, Florida, were caught entering a home around 3 a.m. on Sunday while the owners were out of the country, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office confirmed to ABC News. The owners, who were alerted by their home-surveillance system, notified authorities about the burglary in progress, and deputies arrested the two teens.

One of the teens was shot by a deputy outside the home and was taken to a Broward Health Medical Center with “non-life-threatening injuries,” police said.

That incident came five days after deputies arrested Nicholas Rossell, 29, who faces charges of burglary and theft for allegedly attempting to steal a purse from a car as a fellow Floridian was grocery shopping and “preparing for Hurricane Irma,” according to a Broward County Sheriff’s Office press release.

At a press conference Monday, Broward’s sheriff, Scott Israel, issued a warning to potential looters.

“If you looted and we find out who you are, you will go to jail,” he said.

Fort Lauderdale law enforcement officers arrested 19 people on Sunday for looting.

Two people were taken into custody for trying to break into a home, a Fort Lauderdale police spokeswoman said.

On Twitter, the Fort Lauderdale Police Department warned the community about the consequences of looting.

“Can’t say we didn’t warn you…28 YOs Ryan Cook & Max Saintvil each face 6 counts of burglary from overnight #HurricaneIrma,” the tweet said.

Earlier Sunday, a news team from ABC News affiliate WPLG shot video of a group of shoppers who allegedly made their own entrance into a closed Simon’s Sportswear store by entering and exiting through a large, broken glass cavity.

In the footage, one man is seen walking off with multiple boxes before entering a silver SUV.

Another man is spotted lugging a clear plastic tub filled with inventory.

A day later, the city’s police chief, Rick Maglione, called the idea of stealing sneakers while Irma was lashing the city “a fairly bad life choice.”

Six adults and three juveniles, a Fort Lauderdale police spokeswoman confirmed, were booked Monday for burglary during a natural disaster.

The charge is a felony in Florida and “holds the possibility of a longer sentencing,” the spokeswoman added.

Authorities in Miami hoped to turn would-be thieves away by instituting a curfew for residents.

“Thinking about looting? Ask these guys how that turned out. #stayindoors”

Miami-Dade police let it be known that officers would pursue looters even as they responded to Irma calls.

“We’re on patrol & won’t tolerate criminal activity as our community recovers from #HurricaneIrma!” according to a department tweet.

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