HOUSTON, TX — Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner has announced that the city will begin enforcing a curfew from midnight to 5 A.M. following scattered reports of looting during Hurricane Harvey.
Turner posted on Twitter that restricting the curfew to those hours would “to allow volunteers and others to continue doing their great work.”
The mayor also stated at a news conference on Tuesday that there is no reason for people to be on the streets during those hours.
In addition, The Montgomery County District Attorney’s office posted on Monday that any looters, thieves, or burglars caught victimizing area residents would be arrested and face mandatory jail time, according to The Houston Chronicle.
Police Chief Art Acevedo said that 14 looters had been arrested since Sunday.
“We’ve had armed robbers going around our community victimizing them again,” he said, calling the alleged looters “low lives.”
Surveillance video posted on Twitter appears to show looters robbing a store during the flood, WPLJ reported.
After Hurricane Harvey reached Houston on Friday, some fake reports were widely circulated online with hashtags including #HoustonLootCrew and #HarveyLootCrew. However, the police say that there have been actual looting incidents since then — and that anyone caught violating the curfew risks being stopped, questioned, and arrested.
According to a statement from the Harris County District Attorney’s office, offenders in Texas face “heftier” penalties for crimes including assault, robbery, burglary, and theft if they are committed during a crisis. District Attorney Kim Ogg also noted that burglarizing a home in a disaster area could carry a life sentence under Texas law.
Main photo: Security footage that appears to show several people looting stores in the Houston area following Hurricane Harvey [WPLG / Twitter (screenshot)]