As families evacuate and stores in southeast Texas board-up ahead of Hurricane Laura, Chief Art Acevedo is warning people that Houston police will be watching out for looting.
“Although you may not see us, we will have eyes on stores, gun stores, pharmacies, etc. We will not tolerate anyone taking advantage of our community and will move quickly to arrest scofflaws,” Acevedo said on Tuesday.
Although you may not see us, we will have eyes on stores, gun stores, pharmacies, etc. We will not tolerate anyone taking advantage of our community and will move quickly to arrest scofflaws. Our partners @HarrisCountyDAO will be staffed up as well to hold violators accountable.— Chief Art Acevedo (@ArtAcevedo) August 25, 2020
Furthermore, the chief warned that its partners at the Harris County District Attorney office will hold suspected looters accountable.
Harris County District Attorney issued its own warning Wednesday, tweeting “the DA’s Office will continue operating 24/7 and prosecuting cases as they come in.”
We will not tolerate anyone taking advantage of the storm and preying on our community by stealing. During #HurricaneLaura the DA’s Office will continue operating 24/7 and prosecuting cases as they come in.— Harris County DA (@HarrisCountyDAO) August 26, 2020
In 2017, Texas lawmakers vowed zero tolerance for looters following thefts reported in wake of Hurricane Harvey.
Amid the storm that devastated Houston, the district attorney’s office issued a news release warning looters that they’ll face more time for crimes committed in Harris County.
The district attorney’s office established an enhancement charge that stiffened penalties, replacing two to 20-year sentences with five to 99-year sentences.
In the aftermath of Harvey, a man was sentenced to 20 years in prison for stealing TVs and tobacco products, totaling to a value of more than $5,200, from an area Walmart during the disaster.
Here’s how penalties increased in 2017 during Hurricane Harvey:
- A second-degree felony will be punished as a first-degree felony.
- A state jail felony is punished as a third-degree felony.
- A third-degree felony is punished as a second-degree felony.
- A Class A misdemeanor is punished by a minimum of 180 days in jail. A Class B misdemeanor is punished as a Class A misdemeanor.
- Under Texas law, the punishment increases for crimes such as assault, robbery, burglary and theft.
In efforts to prevent looting, curfews have been imposed for areas anticipating impact.
This is a serious event and we should treat it as such. If #HurricaneLaura moves more to the west, then our preparation time will be shorter.— Sylvester Turner (@SylvesterTurner) August 25, 2020
I am asking Houstonians to be off the road by 8pm tomorrow if not sooner. You should be where you are at that time. #houwx