Hurricane Hinders Alarm Systems in Florida


Thieves in Central Florida have been taking advantage of power and/or telephone outages turning off burglar alarm systems in the wake of Hurricane Charley. However, the sheriff of Seminole County says storm-related crimes have been few in number.

Seminole County Sheriff Don Eslinger told the Orlando Sentinel that his agency recorded seven thefts or burglaries from Aug. 13-15 as Charley roared through with 100 mph-plus winds and in its aftermath. He says the county usually records a dozen or more such crimes on a typical weekend.

The winds and rain of Charley left more than 20 people dead, made 26,000 homes uninhabitable and has kept the power out for hundreds of thousands of customers for more than a week.

Eslinger says while he was amazed that thieves could still do their dirty work in the middle of a natural disaster, he wasn’t surprised. In one case, a deputy checked on a scuba gear store in Oviedo and then took refuge as the storm reached its peak. He came back minutes later to find that a thief burglarized the store.

In Castleberry, a gun store was burglarized of several weapons, while $25,000 in instruments was stolen from a music store in Longwood. In both cases, the alarm system was either shut down by the power outage or unable to send a signal because of down telephone service.

Still, authorities credit increased patrols during and after the hurricane for keeping most potential looters at bay. “We weren’t that busy,” Orlando Police Officer Jason Batura told the Sentinel. “It wasn’t anything extremely out of the ordinary.”

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