In the wake of Hurricane Idalia’s devastating strike on Florida’s Big Bend region, Governor Ron DeSantis is taking a clear and firm stance against any potential looters hoping to capitalize on the destruction. With 125 mph winds wreaking havoc, uprooting trees, destroying homes, and causing widespread flooding, Florida residents are already grappling with a challenging aftermath.
Given this adversity, it’s all the more critical to maintain order. Recalling last year’s Hurricane Ian, the Tampa Bay Times reported 28 arrests in Lee County due to looting alone. In response to these kinds of opportunistic crimes, DeSantis stated, “We are not going to tolerate any looting in the aftermath of a natural disaster.” The notion that individuals would exploit such a crisis is one the Governor finds simply “ridiculous.”
Governor DeSantis further reminded potential looters of a significant aspect of Florida’s culture: its widespread support for the Second Amendment. He mentioned, “This part of Florida, you’ve got a lot of advocates and some proponents of the Second Amendment,” suggesting that those who attempt to steal may find themselves facing more than just legal consequences. DeSantis cited homeowner warnings he’s seen in the past: “You loot, we shoot.”
His message to potential criminals is crystal clear. “You never know what’s behind that door if you go break into somebody’s house and you’re trying to loot, these are people that are going to be able to defend themselves and their families.” At the very least, he promises rigorous law enforcement action against any and all looters.
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody echoed this sentiment, emphasizing the state’s commitment to law and order. Moody relayed that a significant concern she hears is residents fearing for their properties during mandatory evacuations. To allay these fears, she highlighted Florida’s robust response to looters, reassuring residents that their properties will remain safe from criminal actions.
Furthermore, Moody emphasized unity and mutual support during these challenging times. Still, she acknowledged the reality that some may try to profit either by price-gouging essential commodities or by looting abandoned properties. Both actions, she firmly stated, will not be tolerated in the state. She further encouraged police agencies to keep looters off the streets once charged, aligning with policies set in the aftermath of last year’s hurricane.
As Florida rebuilds and recovers from the aftermath of Hurricane Idalia, the state’s leadership is sending a loud and clear message: property rights are paramount, and criminal exploitation during times of crisis will be met with swift and definitive action.