Florida governor Ron DeSantis on Friday warned against looting in areas hard-hit by Hurricane Ian, reminding would-be looters that Florida is a “Second Amendment state.”
“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 at a news conference in St. Augustine on Friday. “You can have people bringing boats into some of these islands and trying to ransack people’s homes.
“Don’t even think about looting. Don’t even think about taking advantage of people in this vulnerable situation,” he added. “I can tell you, in the state of Florida, you never know what may be lurking behind somebody’s home. And I would not want to chance that, if I were you, given that we’re a Second Amendment state.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis warns people not to loot homes amid hurricane recovery: "You never know what may be lurking behind somebody's home…we're a Second Amendment state." https://t.co/zEQTa6EZra pic.twitter.com/EZaVPNXPDq
— CBS News (@CBSNews) October 1, 2022
The governor said the state will provide local jurisdictions with assistance with monitoring crime, if needed.
Speaking near Fort Myers earlier on Friday, DeSantis recalled seeing businesses boarded up one day earlier in Punta Gorda with “you loot, we shoot” written on the plywood.
“At the end of the day, we are not going to allow lawlessness to take advantage of this situation,” DeSantis said. “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.”
Fort Myers is located in Lee County, where Sheriff Carmine Marceno similarly issued a warning against looting and crime in the Hurricane’s aftermath.
“Don’t do it in this county. Don’t make that mistake,” Marceno said. “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.”
Marceno said he has been in touch with Attorney General Ashley Moody.
“We are not going to tolerate — and I mean zero tolerance — when we say anyone that thinks they’re going to thrive on the residents of this county or state when we just took a horrific hit, I can guarantee you that is not going to happen,” Marceno said.
Moody shared a video on Twitter on Friday of people arrested for alleged looting in Fort Myers Beach.
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
“Florida will not tolerate looters taking advantage of [Hurricane Ian] 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,” she wrote.
Hurricane Ian touched down near Cayo Costa as a category-four hurricane on Wednesday afternoon with maximum sustained winds near 150 mph.
Looting had already been reported in Fort Myers on Wednesday, when an evening curfew was put in place for Lee County, Florida Politics reported.
More than 75 percent of Lee County customers were still without power as of 6 a.m. on Saturday, according to the Florida Public Service Commission, as the state contends with widespread flooding and damage caused by the powerful hurricane.