As Tropical Storm Florence continues its slow assault on the North Carolina coast, some county sheriffs are grappling with another problem amid the mass flooding: looters.
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“It’s a big task, because our main priority is protecting lives,” Jon Ingram, the Brunswick County, North Carolina sheriff, said on Saturday during an interview with FOX Business’ Neil Cavuto.
Already, Ingram said they’ve arrested five people on suspicion of trying to break into abandoned cars, homes and businesses in Brunswick County, which is located along the shore just north of Myrtle Beach.
“We knew going into this, this was a potential and we were going to make sure we had enough resources out there to protect the property as best we could, so that people had evacuated, heeded the warnings and made sure they took safe shelter, didn’t have to worry about their property,” he said.
Florence made landfall early Friday morning as a Category 1 hurricane but weakened over the course of the day to a tropical storm. The storm has already killed five people and battered homes along the Carolina coast. Officials have warned it’s unlikely to cease anytime soon, urging residents to prepare for potentially catastrophic flooding and potential landslides.
Although Brunswick County is under mandatory evacuation, Ingram said some people decided to stay in their homes. In order to prevent any looting or robberies, the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office issued a curfew on Friday night.
“It’s just unfortunate that people look for these opportunities to prey on the vulnerabilities of these people when the situation is at its worst,” he said. “We are trying our best to make sure we can contain that as much as possible.”