In the midst of trying to aid in the restoration efforts after last week's disaster, Miami authorities are dealing with a number of “looters.”
“I was informed this morning that we have a serious problem with sightseers and people pilfering through flood-damaged property,” Miami Police Chief Gary Anderson said. “That's against the law.”
According to a city ordinance dealing with disaster areas, it is unlawful for any unauthorized person to proceed to or remain in a disaster area for the purpose of being a bystander, spectator, sightseer or souvenir hunter.
It is also unlawful for anyone to take, remove or disturb any material objects directly or indirectly related to a disaster.
“Just going through the garbage on the curbside is considered looting and punishable by a fine of $144 and 10 days in jail,” Anderson said. “If the propety don't belong to you … keep your hands off of it. That is what it amounts to.”
During the first days after the flood, authorities said there were people found entering homes that had been evacuated and stealing the contents.
“Now, if you enter someone's home that's a different story,” Anderson said. “That's burglary and it's a felony.”
Anderson said his officers have been alerted to the problem and will be in full force protecting the evacuated homes and property of flood victims.