4 Looters Accused of Targeting Homes of Hurricane Ian Victims Released on Bond: Report

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Authorities successful Lee County, Florida, arrested and charged 4 alleged looters who were spotted ransacking homes and businesses connected Fort Myers Beach, according to aggregate reports.

The individuals, 3 men and a pistillate aged betwixt 20 and 33, person been identified successful jailhouse records arsenic Brandon Mauricio Araya, Omar Mejia Ortiz, Steve Eduardo Sanchez Araya, and Valerie Celeste Salcedo Mena, the New York Post reported.

All 4 suspects, charged with stealing from an unoccupied operation during a authorities of emergency, were arrested connected Sept. 29—but were released aft posting bonds of $35,000 each, the insubstantial reported.

Brandon Araya and Steve Araya, arsenic good arsenic Valerie Mena, were besides charged with expansive larceny, documents indicate.

Epoch Times Photo Valerie Celeste Salcedo Mena. (Courtesy of Lee County Sheriff’s Office)

The incidental happened astir the aforesaid clip an NBC 2 newsman posted a video connected Twitter showing a radical of 5 radical handcuffed connected the ground.

Those radical were besides taken into custody aft allegedly looting properties successful the hurricane-hit neighborhood, though constabulary haven’t confirmed if immoderate of the 4 alleged looters charged were the aforesaid radical of thieves arsenic successful the video.

“Sheriff’s deputies told maine … these radical were arrested for looting connected Fort Myers Beach,” Gage Goulding said connected societal media on with a abbreviated clip of the suspects.

Authorities warned looters successful a connection connected Facebook, saying Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno “means business” and has “a zero tolerance stance” against radical who mean to loot homes of victims pursuing Hurricane Ian.

“We are patrolling and you volition beryllium arrested if you partake successful transgression activity,” the sheriff’s bureau wrote unneurotic with a representation of the 5 individuals who were arrested successful the neighborhood.

Lee County was 1 of the worst-hit places aft Ian made landfall successful occidental Florida past week arsenic a large Category 4 storm.

Sheriff Marceno said connected Monday that much than 50 radical died successful Lee County alone, followed by 24 successful Charlotte County. The fig of those killed successful the full authorities roseate to astatine slightest 100 radical connected Monday.

The decease toll from the catastrophic tempest has been rising amid ongoing search-and-rescue missions.

‘You Loot, We Shoot’

It appears looters haven’t heeded warnings Florida officials, including Gov. Ron DeSantis, issued past week to those targeting bare homes and businesses pursuing the hurricane.

DeSantis issued a stark informing during aggregate property conferences connected Sept. 30, including 1 successful Fort Myers, wherever helium remarked astir seeing the motion directed astatine would-be looters displayed astatine a concern successful adjacent Punta Gorda.

DeSantis Ian Update Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (C) delivers an update connected Hurricane Ian, successful Fort Myers, Fla., connected Oct. 1, 2022. (Florida Governor’s Office via Reuters/Screenshot via NTD)

“They boarded up each the businesses, and determination are radical that wrote connected their plywood, ‘you loot, we shoot,'” DeSantis said. “At the extremity of the day, we are not going to let lawlessness to instrumentality vantage of this situation.”

“We are a law-and-order state, and this is simply a law-and-order community, truthful bash not deliberation that you’re going to spell instrumentality vantage of radical who’ve suffered misfortune,” the politician added.

Ashley Moody, the state’s lawyer general, said that Floridians displaced by Hurricane Ian already “have capable to interest astir without having to fearfulness theft oregon burglary astatine the hands of offenders.”

Separately, a elder Florida authoritative warned that scammers and con artists often effort to instrumentality vantage of hopeless radical pursuing large earthy disasters and called connected residents to beryllium vigilant successful the aftermath of Ian’s destruction.

“You person these predators that volition travel in, and they volition spell door-to-door canvassing neighborhoods that they spot the harm and they volition motion implicit their [insurance] claims to contractors oregon they volition person unscrupulous nationalist adjusters … that are going to harm your quality to get made full immoderate faster,” Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis told Newsmax Friday.

After earthy disasters similar Ian, atrocious actors “show up successful droves,” Patronis warned. If you are a “policyholder” and suffered damage, “call your agent, telephone your carrier, oregon telephone my office,” helium added.

Epoch Times newsman Tom Ozimek contributed to this report.

Lorenz Duchamps