Following the destruction and chaos left by Hurricane Ian, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis delivered a stern warning to would-be criminals: “Don’t even think about looting.”
Just this week, Hurricane Ian completely obliterated southwest Florida, causing the death of at least 45 people with the number expected to rise as search-and-rescue teams access isolated areas.
And sadly, some Floridians have used this devastation to their advantage, looting residences and businesses.
In fact, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office just posted images of five individuals arrested for looting on social media just this past Friday.
“Sheriff Carmine Marceno means business and has taken a zero tolerance stance on looting. We are patrolling and you will be arrested if you partake in criminal activity,” the sheriff’s office declared in a Facebook post.
So now, DeSantis has delivered an unflinching warning to anyone else that has considered looting during the aftermath of the hurricane.
“They boarded up all the businesses, and there are people that wrote on their plywood, ‘you loot, we shoot,'” DeSantis said during a press conference near Fort Myers in southwest Florida. “At the end of the day, we are not going to allow lawlessness to take advantage of this situation. We are a law-and-order state, and this is a law-and-order community, so do not think that you’re going to go take advantage of people who’ve suffered misfortune.”
“The other thing we’re concerned about, particularly in those areas that were really hard hit, is we want to make sure we’re maintaining law and order,” DeSantis said. “Don’t even think about looting. Don’t even think about taking advantage of people in this vulnerable situation.”
“I can tell you, in the state of Florida, you never know what may be lurking behind somebody’s home,” DeSantis said. “I would not want to chance that if I were you, given that we’re a Second Amendment state.”
Florida is a law and order state.
Looting and lawlessness will not be tolerated. pic.twitter.com/8Ma9RuSlPq
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) October 1, 2022
Christina Pushaw, DeSantis campaign’s rapid response director, also posted images to Twitter showing signs in front of homes.
Lee County, Florida:
TRY TO LOOT
I WILL EAT YOUR FACE
— Christina Pushaw 🐊 🇺🇸 (@ChristinaPushaw) October 1, 2022
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody echoed DeSantis, stating that looting will not be tolerated.
Florida will not tolerate looters taking advantage of #HurricaneIan to prey on vulnerable Floridians. They will be arrested and I have asked state attorneys to seek the longest pretrial detention possible to keep them locked up so they cannot commit new crimes. https://t.co/ORw0qJ1TbB
— AG Ashley Moody (@AGAshleyMoody) September 30, 2022
Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno warned, “Don’t do it in this county. Don’t make that mistake. Because one thing we do have is vacancy at the jail. And I guarantee you if you try to prey on one of our great residents, you will find yourself in that jail.”
Lee County Manager Roger Dejarlais proclaimed, “To be sure, and I feel safe relaying this in on behalf of law enforcement, there’s going to be a zero-tolerance policy for looting and violence in this town.”