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Potential looters warned off by Lee, Charlotte sheriff's offices; Collier County installs curfew

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Lee County Sheriff's Office
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Special to WGCU
Warnings against looting Hurricane Ian-affected homes and businesses have been issued by sheriff's offices in both Lee and Charlotte counties.

Warnings against looting Hurricane Ian-affected homes and businesses have been issued by sheriff's offices in both Lee and Charlotte counties.

In Collier County a curfew was installed Saturday as a safety measure for residents.

The Lee County Sheriff's Office posted photos of purported looters arrested and handcuffed in Fort Myers Beach with the warning: "We are patrolling and you will be arrested if you partake in criminal activity."

"If we see that happening, we will not hesitate to take action. The business owners, like everyone else, have been through enough..."
Charlotte County Sheriff Bill Prummell

It was an instance of looting at a gas station in Fort Myers during the passage of Ian through Lee County on Wednesday that prompted the activation of a dusk-to-dawn curfew.

In that instance, which happened while law enforcement was pulled off streets due to sustained high winds, county officials said a group of people took advantage of the no-police situation to break into a gas station and make off with goods.

Charlotte County Sheriff Bill Prummell also issued a caution to potential law-breakers:

" ... very few businesses have reopened. This leaves those closed businesses vulnerable to looting," he said in a post on his agency's web site. "If we see that happening, we will not hesitate to take action. The business owners, like everyone else, have been through enough – and I won’t stand for anyone taking advantage of someone else’s misfortune."

He urged anyone seeing such activities to report it immediately at 911 or (941) 833-4161.

A mandatory curfew was put into place Saturday for all of Collier County and the City of Naples between 12 a.m. and 6 a.m. and was anticipated to remain in effect until power is largely restored.

City and county officials said the purpose of the curfew was to protect residents of Collier County and their property as they begin the process of recovering from the effects of Hurricane Ian.

The curfew does not apply to emergency responders, employees at health care facilities, critical staff for businesses that provide essential services or those seeking medical assistance. Violation of the curfew is a second-degree misdemeanor.

The Collier Information Hotline remains active. Residents with questions may call the Hotline at (239) 252-8444 (within Collier County, residents may dial 311).

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