Miami-Dade Police tweeted: “28 arrests so far for burglary/looting. Our officers remain on patrol and the curfew is in effect until 7am. #HurricaneIrma.”
Irma was a category four storm when it first made landfall in the Florida Keys, but is now a category one. It is losing strength and is set to be downgraded to a tropical storm.
Thieves even robbed a gun store while others were caught on camera breaking into a sports shop. On Sunday, two groups of looters were in fact caught on camera ransacking two separate sporting goods stores in South Florida as one alleged looter was shot and at least 12 were arrested, local media reported.
In midtown Miami, a local television reporter watched as a dozen well-coordinated looters robbed of sporting goods at yet another sporting goods store on Sunday.
A teenager and arrested another after they are alleged to have tried to break in to a home in the rich Fort Lauderdale suburb of Weston on Saturday, NBC 6 TV reported.
A local utilities company near Orlando is reporting that a number of residents have made disturbing complaints that robbers posing as utility workers are stealing from homeowners at gun point, according to WOFL-TV.
“We want everyone to be safe during the hurricane. And we will not tolerate thieves taking advantage of those evacuating their homes. Looters need to be prepared to go to jail if they try to take advantage of people during a state of emergency,” said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd in a media statement.
Looting begins in Florida.
— Paul Joseph Watson (@PrisonPlanet) September 10, 2017
Fort Lauderdale Police, confirmed that nine people had been arrested in connection with a looting. Chief Rick Maglione 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.”
But some criticised the police efforts to round up looters. One tweeter said: “Preserving property that would otherwise be destroyed during the hurricane is more important than the police doing their job of saving lives.”
Another said: “You should be worried about evacuating people or keeping them safe.”
Videos have also appeared online showing looters targeting battered shops on several of the Caribbean islands destroyed by Irma last week. In St Maarten at least twenty people allegedly raided shops destroyed by the storm.
At least 28 people were killed in the Caribbean, sowing widespread damage on several islands, including the British Virgin Islands.
Irma has hit Florida after sweeping over Cuba with storm winds, heavy rain and flooding. It could turn out to be the most catastrophic storm to ever hit the state, as seven million people were ordered to evacuate.