U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) warned that there have been reports of looters impersonating federal officials throughout the affected disaster areas in Houston so they can rob homes.
True Homeland Security Investigations agents wear verifiable badges and credentials, ICE said in a press release. The federal agency referenced reports that people are going door-to-door throughout Houston and telling people to evacuate their homes — “presumably so these imposters can rob the empty homes.”
“Real HSI officials wear badges that are labeled ‘special agent,’ which members of the public can ask to see and verify,” ICE noted. “Members of the public who receive such visitors should ask to see these properly labeled badges, and their credentials.”
ICE indicated that while their agents would be assisting in hurricane relief operations, they are not conducting immigration enforcement operations in any of the affected disaster areas.
In an announcement from Harris County District Attorney’s Office on Tuesday, District Attorney Kim K. Ogg said that those who commit crimes like robbery, burglary and theft in disaster areas will receive harsher punishments for their crimes under Texas law.
“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.”
Those who burglarize homes normally would face two to 20 years in prison but now will face five years to life in prison if convicted.