AWFUL! Police bust 5 in North Carolina as looting begins amidst Florence chaos

As Tropical Storm Florence continues its deadly destruction in the Carolinas, reports of looting have surfaced.

Authorities in Wilmington, North Carolina, say looters have targeted multiple Family Dollar stores, WTVD-TV reports.

In one instance, dozens of people ransacked a store on Saturday afternoon but the retailer’s manager asked police not to get involved.

A separate Dollar General store was looted later in the day. In that case, the pilfering was documented on social media and local journalists witnessing the thefts notified police.

Some of the looters carried out large quantities of goods and at least one person used a cart to transport merchandise, WAVY-TV reports. Multiple people were also wearing masks, according to WECT-TV.

Five people were subsequently arrested, although their identities have not yet been made public.

Authorities are taking steps to identify the suspects and “will charge them to the fullest extent of the law,” police said in a post on Facebook.

Municipal officials subsequently extended the city’s curfew for the area near the store because of the looting reports.

“In response to looting in the area, an extended curfew is now in place for the block between 13th, 14th, Greenfield and Martin Streets,” the city tweeted. “This curfew went into effect at 5 p.m. and will remain in effect until 6 a.m. The citywide curfew will run from 10 p.m. until 6 a.m.”

District Attorney Ben David told WECT-TV that authorities have made space in the county jail to accommodate people taking advantage of the storm to commit crimes.

“We have room for people who are going to show the worst in humanity during this,” David said. “If that means going into unoccupied homes because people have left or looting property that’s exposed to the elements or price gouging that comes in the wake of clean up.”

Forecasters from the National Hurricane Center are predicting “catastrophic flooding” as Florence hovers over the region.

At least 11 people have died as a result of the storm.


[Feature image: AP Photo/Chuck Burton]