Two Individuals Arrested for Looting Hurricane-Stricken Home as Residents Fear Increased Burglary Activity

by Joshua Brown
Looting in Hurricane Idalia's Aftermath

Two individuals have been apprehended and charged for looting a residence severely impacted by Hurricane Idalia in the Big Bend region of Florida. The arrests have heightened anxieties among local residents that additional homes devastated by the hurricane may become targets for burglary, particularly given the limited law enforcement presence in this isolated, forested region along the Gulf Coast.

In Horseshoe Beach, Florida, one of the most adversely affected communities following Hurricane Idalia’s Category 3 landfall last Wednesday, some residents are calling for the implementation of identification checkpoints to regulate entry into the town.

Kerry Ford, an employee at a local marina, commended the initial response by local law enforcement agencies to the hurricane’s aftermath. However, Ford expressed concern that additional measures should be taken to ensure only residents can access Horseshoe Beach. “The authorities have performed commendably in their initial response, but the absence of an identification requirement for entering the community is problematic, particularly under current conditions of power outage,” said Ford.

The arrested individuals, a man and a woman from Palmetto, Florida—situated nearly 200 miles (322 kilometers) south of the hurricane’s landfall—were detained last Wednesday. An officer from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission became suspicious upon hearing noises emanating from a home in Horseshoe Beach. Subsequent investigation revealed the suspects loading property from a coastal residence into a rented pickup truck. Despite the male suspect’s claim that they had permission from the homeowners to remove items, the homeowners vehemently denied giving such consent, according to a statement issued by the Dixie County Sheriff’s Office.

Both suspects face charges including burglary of an unoccupied dwelling during an emergency, grand theft, and trespassing. Bail has been set at $1 million for each individual. “We are committed to vigorously combating such illicit activities,” stated the Dixie County Sheriff’s Office.

As of Saturday, Hurricane Idalia has left over 61,000 residents in Florida and 8,700 in Georgia without power. President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden visited the affected areas in Florida on Saturday for an on-the-ground assessment.

Hurricane Idalia initially hit near Keaton Beach, boasting winds speeds of 125 mph (200 kph) and a storm surge of 6 feet (1.8 meters). The hurricane proceeded to cause widespread destruction across predominantly rural areas of inland Florida and southern Georgia before moving towards the ocean in the Carolinas. The storm has disproportionately affected less developed regions of Florida.

Tammy Bryan, an employee at the First Freewill Baptist Church in Horseshoe Beach, expressed a unique perspective on the issue of looting. “If these looters are intent on taking items, they could at least contribute by helping in some manner. Assistance with debris removal, for instance, would be appreciated, given the dire need for additional support in our community,” Bryan said.

This report includes contributions from Big Big News correspondent Mike Schneider, based in St. Louis.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Hurricane Idalia looting

What charges do the arrested individuals face for looting a home damaged by Hurricane Idalia?

The arrested man and woman from Palmetto, Florida, face multiple charges, including burglary of an unoccupied dwelling during an emergency, grand theft, and trespassing. Bail for each individual has been set at $1 million.

Where did Hurricane Idalia make landfall and with what intensity?

Hurricane Idalia made landfall near Keaton Beach, Florida, as a Category 3 hurricane. The storm boasted wind speeds of 125 mph (200 kph) and brought along a 6-foot (1.8-meter) storm surge.

What measures are local residents suggesting to deter future looting?

Residents of Horseshoe Beach, one of the communities hardest hit by the hurricane, are advocating for the establishment of identification checkpoints at the entrances to the town to regulate who can enter the community.

What has been the response of local law enforcement to Hurricane Idalia and its aftermath?

Local law enforcement has been commended for their initial response to the hurricane’s devastation. However, concerns have been raised about the lack of additional security measures to prevent non-residents from entering affected areas, particularly given the current power outages.

How many residents are without power due to Hurricane Idalia as of Saturday?

As of Saturday, more than 61,000 Florida residents and 8,700 Georgia residents were without power due to the impacts of Hurricane Idalia.

Who has visited the affected areas for an on-the-ground assessment?

President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden visited the hurricane-damaged areas in Florida on Saturday for an on-the-ground assessment of the situation.

What is the unique perspective of Tammy Bryan regarding looting?

Tammy Bryan, an employee at the First Freewill Baptist Church in Horseshoe Beach, suggests that if looters are intent on stealing, they could at least contribute positively by helping in some way, such as assisting with debris removal.

More about Hurricane Idalia looting

  • Dixie County Sheriff’s Office Statement
  • Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
  • National Hurricane Center: Hurricane Idalia Update
  • U.S. President’s Visit to Hurricane-Damaged Florida
  • Power Outage Statistics in Florida and Georgia
  • Horseshoe Beach Community Response to Hurricane Idalia

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JohnDoe42 September 3, 2023 - 2:56 am

Wow, this is crazy. can’t believe people would loot homes damaged by a hurricane. Just awful.

LocalNewsFan September 3, 2023 - 5:03 am

This article is super comprehensive, kudos to the writer. Keep us updated!

Tom_in_GA September 3, 2023 - 6:39 am

Feel bad for the people without power in Georgia too. Hurricane’s dont care about state lines, ppl.

EcoWatcher September 3, 2023 - 8:24 am

This shows the impact of climate change isn’t just environmental. Social and law problems are rising too.

FloridianLife September 3, 2023 - 9:05 am

Good on Kerry Ford for speaking out. We need more people to talk about these issues openly. We cant just wait for another disaster to happen.

PolicyNerd September 3, 2023 - 9:30 am

Intriguing that the residents want ID checks. Sounds like a good idea but could also slow down aid and relief efforts?

Sarah_M September 3, 2023 - 1:09 pm

Where are the police? these residents need protection especially with all the chaos goin on.


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