Hurricane Ian: Four Florida Residents Arrested for Looting in Storm’s Aftermath

by Megan Molseed
(Getty images)

Florida residents are on a long road to recovery after Hurricane Ian pummeled portions of the state late last week. And, as residents deal with the destruction and aftermath of the deadly storm there is a new threat they are facing. This comes as looters are taking advantage of the devastation throughout areas of the state.

Four Have Been Arrested On Looting Charges Following Hurricane Ian

Recently, Florida law enforcement shared the news that four individuals have been arrested and charged with looting in the area. Looking to take advantage of the devastation. Even as hundreds of thousands of residents and business owners struggle to begin their recovery in the hurricane’s aftermath.

Thirty-three-year-old Omar Mejia Ortiz, 26-year-old Valerie Celeste Salcedo Mena, 20-year-old Brandon Mauricio Araya, and 20-year-old Steve Eduardo Sanchez Araya were all arrested Thursday on burglary charges. According to the Lee County deputies, the four suspects were taken in on burglary charges after entering an unoccupied structure during a state of emergency. Additionally, Brandon Araya and Steve Araya, as well as Mena, were all four charged with grand larceny. Ortiz was charged with petit larceny.

Florida Officials Warn Residents Agains Ransacking Homes And Businesses In Ian’s Wake

Since Hurricane Ian made landfall last week Florida officials, including Governor Ron DeSantis, have been warning residents against looting. DeSantis made a statement late last week telling residents that law enforcement is monitoring thefts as people begin rebounding from Ian’s damage.

“Don’t even think about looting,” Governor Ron DeSantis says in a press conference.

“Don’t even think about taking advantage of people in this vulnerable situation,” the governor adds. “And so local law enforcement is involved in monitoring that.”

The Lee County Sherriff Carmine Marceno adds that looters had “better think twice.” Furthermore, officials note that Florida is a “law and order state.” Looting and “lawlessness will not be tolerated. During a statement about the looting, Sherriff Carmine adds that when officials note that Florida has zero tolerance for these crimes he means zero tolerance.

“We will hunt you down,” the Sherriff warns.

“Track you down, and you’re going to jail,” he continues. “If you’re lucky.”

Hurricane Ian swept over the Sunshine state starting Wednesday of last week. So far, the death toll is continuing to climb after Ian brought category 4 winds and heavy rainfall destroying homes and businesses all across the state. The four accused looters have all been released from jail after posting $35,000 bonds, reports note.