The Harris County District Attorney’s Office announced on Tuesday that those who are caught looting will face harsher punishments under a Texas law that provides stiffer penalties during a time of crisis.
The announcement from District Attorney Kim K. Ogg’s office came after law enforcement officials arrested 14 looters over the previous 48 hours in disaster areas throughout the Houston area.
“People displaced or harmed in this storm are not going to be easy prey,” Ogg said. “Anyone who tries to take advantage of this storm to break into homes or businesses should know that they are going to feel the full weight of the law. Offenders will be processed around the clock without delay.”
Under Texas law, punishments are increased for crimes like robbery, burglary, and theft if committed in a county that is declared by the governor to be a disaster area.
For example, the statement notes that in Texas burglarizing a home normally brings a punishment of two to 20 years in prison, but now would bring five years to life in prison if convicted.
On Monday, the Louisiana Cajun Navy claimed that looters fired shots at their boats because they either didn’t want them around their illegal activities or they were trying to take their boat – no injuries were reported.