Police in Florida have arrested several people they said were caught looting stores and homes left empty during Hurricane Irma.
Nine people have been arrested for allegedly stealing footwear and other items from a pawn shop and a sporting goods store in Fort Lauderdale Sunday as the tropical storm ravaged parts of South Florida, officials said.
“Going to prison over a pair of sneakers is a fairly bad life choice. Stay home and look after your loved ones and be thankful they are all safe,” Fort Lauderdale Police Chief Rick Maglione said in a tweet announcing the arrests.
Earlier that day, two men were arrested for allegedly ransacking six houses Saturday into Sunday, Fort Lauderdale police said.
Ryan Cook and Max Saintvil, both 28, each face six counts of burglary for allegedly breaking into homes that had been evacuated, cops said.
“Anyone who intends to victimize our neighbors during this difficult time... will be captured and arrested,” Maglione warned that day.
As of Monday, police in Fort Lauderdale had arrested 19 people for burglarizing businesses and residences during the storm, officials said.
A group of suspected looters were caught on camera as they stole sneakers from a Miami Foot Locker, loading the goods into multiple getaway cars as police arrived on the scene, WSVN-TV wrote on its Facebook page.
Several people were also arrested for burglaries that occurred in Miami, authorities said.
It was not immediately clear whether the individuals arrested were the same ones caught on camera by WSVN-TV.
“Thinking about looting? Ask these guys how that [turned] out,” the Miami Police Department wrote on Facebook, sharing a photo of the alleged suspects in a jail cell with the added warning to “#stayindoors.”
The Florida Highway Patrol also urged people to remain inside, noting that people have been venturing outside despite the dangers posed by the weather and its aftereffects.
“Troopers are encountering numerous people out sightseeing this morning,” a spokeswoman for the troop that covers Orlando said.
Curfews are in effect in many areas of the state, and even as they are lifted, officials urge residents to stay off the roads.
"We also [have] numerous traffic lights out,” the spokeswoman said. “Drivers are reminded to treat as a four-way stop, 'First to stop — first to go.'"