MELBOURNE, Fla. – No place, not even a church, is safe from looters trying to capitalize on the displacements caused by Hurricane Frances (search) and the state's biggest evacuation ever. At least 11 suspected looters have been arrested.
"The jackals are out there and just waiting to pounce," Palm Beach County Sheriff Ed Bieluch said.
In Brevard County (search), two men were charged with looting for trying to break into the Ascension Catholic Church in Melbourne.
Three looting suspects were arrested after abandoning their car following a chase on Interstate 95 in Palm Beach County (search). A fourth man dropped a cell phone foot, and deputies answered when his girlfriend called. Their car was registered in Miami-Dade County.
Bieluch was part of the chase, riding in a weatherproof heavy-duty truck dubbed the Hulk.
"We don't want to wait until we've had 20 or 30 homes broken into," he said.
Two Tampa men were taken into custody early Saturday after they were found inside the screened porch at a house that had been shuttered and abandoned, said the Indian River County sheriff's office.
Two hooded Davenport men were charged with attempted burglary after being found outside a Vero Beach business. One was caught carrying burglar tools after a short foot chase, and the other was tackled a few blocks away.
Two St. Petersburg men have been booked on prowling charges and curfew violations after they were picked up 140 miles away in Pahokee. They had been spotted peeking into shuttered homes.
"They're coming in from out of town to loot," Police Chief Rafael Duran said.