Lee County, Florida, which includes Fort Myers and Cape Coral, bore the worst of Hurricane Ian on Wednesday. Buildings were flattened, homes were flooded and washed away, and people’s lives were turned upside down. Now, as the residents begin to come to terms with the incredible destruction, looting and crime throughout the county have begun.
Despite lawmakers’ best efforts to emphasize that “looting and violence” would “not be tolerated,” reports of looting began coming in as the flooding came to an end.
“To be sure, and I feel safe relaying this on behalf of law enforcement, there’s going to be a zero-tolerance policy for looting and violence in this town,” Lee County Manager Roger Dejarlais announced on Wednesday evening.
“Our community has been, in some respects, decimated,” added Dejarlais.
“Earlier today, when law enforcement was unable to respond because of weather conditions… there was a break-in on Cleveland Avenue,” Dejarlais reported. “There was looting and there was a group of people – don’t know a lot about it yet – who just had their way.”
Lee County officials have now moved to activate a 6 pm county-wide curfew, which will apply to over 413,000 citizens. All cities in Dejarlais’ jurisdiction will be under this curfew, with the only exceptions being those pertaining to work, health care, grocery shopping, or school.
This curfew will be in place indefinitely “until further notice.”
Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno echoed Dejarlais in a separate press conference on Wednesday, making it clear how seriously this issue is being taken by law enforcement.
“A message that’s very clear for any of those individuals that think they’re gonna go out there and loot or prey on people during this horrific event… You better think twice,” said Marceno. “When I say zero tolerance, zero tolerance means we will hunt you down, track you down and you’re going to jail if you’re lucky.”
On Friday, five young suspects were arrested in Fort Myers for looting.
Watch the video below to see the horrific aftermath of Hurrican Ian in Fort Myers:
Fort Myers Beach destruction drone footage. Not my video. I'll share his channel below. pic.twitter.com/5L9Vgng4cV
— Max Huber – The Magic Travel Guy (@MaxJHuber) September 29, 2022