Two men have been arrested near Daytona Beach, Florida, for allegedly stealing sandbags from a construction site as parts of the U.S. East Coast brace for a lashing from Hurricane Dorian.
The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement that a deputy witnessed the men, Joseph Colombo and Thaylon Lewis, looting a construction site near Interstate 95 and I-4 at around 5:00 p.m. local time on Monday.
The suspects “are the first to be arrested for looting during a state of emergency,” the sheriff’s office announced in a Facebook post.
According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Volusia County workers have “distributed supplies and materials for more than 100,000 free sand bags” as Hurricane Dorian inches toward south Florida. Akin to other states, Florida issues stricter punishments for crimes committed amid a state of emergency, notes the Sun-Sentinel.
Ahead of the storm, over 2 million people in Florida, Georgia, and North and South Carolina were warned to evacuate as Dorian closed in on the Sunshine State on a projected track expected to take it up the Southeast coast.
While the threat of a direct hit on Florida had all but vanished, the storm was expected to pass dangerously close to South Carolina — and perhaps strike North Carolina — on Thursday or Friday, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Practically parking over the Bahamas for a day and a half, Hurricane Dorian pounded away at the islands Tuesday in a watery onslaught that devastated thousands of homes, trapped people in attics and crippled hospitals. At least five deaths were reported, with the full extent of the damage far from clear.
Dorian’s punishing winds and torrential rain battered the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama, which have a combined population of about 70,000 and are known for their marinas, golf courses, and all-inclusive resorts. The Grand Bahama airport was under 6 feet of water.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.