They’d been warned. Repeatedly.
As Hurricane Irma barreled toward Florida last week, police in the coastal city of Fort Lauderdale announced that they would not be retreating indoors.
On the contrary, Police Chief Rick Maglione wrote: “All regular days off and leave have been canceled in order to maximize the number of officers on the streets.”
Officers would stand guard on drawbridges over roiling waters, he promised, and deploy throughout the city lest anyone get an urge to loot or steal amid the chaos to come.
“The teams will work 24/7 with the sole mission to apprehend criminals,” Maglione wrote. “They are quite good at what they do.”
Predictably, as the storm moved up Florida’s southern tip over the weekend, mug shots began to show up on the police department’s Twitter feed.
“Can’t say we didn’t warn you,” police wrote, above the photos of two men arrested on burglary charges Saturday night.
But those warnings weren’t enough, apparently.
In the rain-filtered daylight of Sunday, nine people lined up outside a hole smashed into the window of a sportswear store. Some of them ducked into the hole and then scrambled out, arms loaded with shoe boxes — in full view of a passing news crew, which captured the scene on video.
“Shortly thereafter, it was the Foot Locker across the street,” a reporter with ABC affiliate WPLG said, narrating the video.
The police, as ever, were watching.
By Saturday afternoon, they announced that nine people had been arrested on suspicion of looting the store and a nearby pawnshop.
A slew of new mug shots appeared on the jail’s website.
Police didn’t have many details on the arrests. Nor did they say whether the news crew’s video helped identify the suspects — three teenagers and six adults, aged 18 to 38.
“Going to prison over a pair of sneakers if a fairly bad life choice,” the chief wrote.
And the jail kept filling up: By Monday afternoon, police announced they’d arrested 19 people for burglary during the hurricane.
The story has been updated.