Police in Miami have arrested more than 50 people on suspicion of looting during and after Hurricane Irma, warning others against taking advantage of the chaotic situation there.
The suspects, among them women and teenagers, were accused on Tuesday of breaking into stores and stealing shoes, bags and laptops.
Police warned in a statement that no criminal activity would be tolerated and their forces were working round the clock to discourage criminality and provide security for the residents’ merchandise.
“All regular days off and leave have been canceled in order to maximize the number of officers on the streets,” Police Chief Rick Maglione said. “The teams will work 24/7 with the sole mission to apprehend criminals.”
Similar warnings were also issued by other police departments across the southeastern state of Florida.
“Going to prison over a pair of sneakers is a fairly bad life choice,” Maglione noted in the statement. “Stay home and look after your loved once [sic] and be thankful they are all safe.”
Irma swept through the state, carving a path of destruction with high winds and storm surges that left millions without power, ripped roofs off homes and flooded city streets.
With a maximum sustained winds of 130 miles (209 km) per hour, the storm has claimed the lives of at least 12 in the US so far.
The hurricane threatened $1.2 billion worth of crops in Florida, which could lead to higher prices of food for some time.
Irma’s arrival in Florida came around two weeks after Hurricane Harvey killed 60 people and caused property damage estimates as high as 180 billion dollars after battering Texas and Louisiana with heavy rains and severe flooding.