4 LOOTERS released on $35K bond after shamelessly trying to steal from Fort Myers Beach homes amid Hurricane Ian

'At the end of the day, we are not going to allow lawlessness to take advantage of this situation,' warned Gov DeSantis after the arrests

4 LOOTERS released on $35K bond after shamelessly trying to steal from Fort Myers Beach homes amid Hurricane Ian
(L-R) Brandon Mauricio Araya, Steve Eduardo Sanchez Araya, Valerie Celeste Salcedo Mena and Omar Mejia Ortiz (Lee County Sherrif's Office)
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FORT MYERS BEACH, FLORIDA: In a display of shameless opportunism, three men and one woman traveled up to 50 miles in order to loot and ransack homes in the hurricane-hit neighborhood of Fort Myers Beach in Florida. All four were arrested on September 29, but have been released on bonds of $35,000 each. 

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Omar Mejia Ortiz, Valerie Celeste Salcedo Mena, Brandon Mauricio Araya, and Steve Eduardo Sanchez Araya, were arrested for stealing from unoccupied buildings as Fort Myers suffers devastation while Hurricane Ian rages on. Condemning the opportunists, Governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis said that Floridians would not hesitate to evoke their second amendment and bear arms if they spotted such thieves, reports the Daily Mail.

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SAN CARLOS ISLAND, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 29: In this aerial view, boats sit grounded in a woodland area and along the side of the road after being pushed by rising water from Hurricane Ian near Fort Myers Beach on September 29, 2022 in San Carlos Island, Florida. The hurricane brought high winds, storm surge and rain to the area causing severe damage. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
In this aerial view, boats sit grounded in a woodland area and along the side of the road after being pushed by rising water from Hurricane Ian near Fort Myers Beach on September 29, 2022 in San Carlos Island, Florida. The hurricane brought high winds, storm surge and rain to the area causing severe damage. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Earlier, a gang of five individuals had been photographed in handcuffs after they were also caught stealing from Fort Myers Beach. However, Lee County Sheriff's Office could not confirm if they were the same group of thieves. 

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Among the four caught, the oldest is Omar Mejia Ortiz who is a 33-year-old male. As per reports by the Florida Jolt, he is a resident of Immokalee and traveled the 50-mile distance to raid the devastated homes and shops in Fort Myers Beach. The next, Valerie Celeste Salcedo Mena lives in Cape Coral. The 26-year-old covered a 40-minute drive and arrived at the beach to put her thieving plans into action. 

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FORT MYERS BEACH, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 29: In an aerial view, boats are piled on top of each other after Hurricane Ian passed through the area on September 29, 2022 in Fort Myers Beach, Florida. The hurricane brought high winds, storm surge and rain to the area causing severe damage. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
In an aerial view, boats are piled on top of each other after Hurricane Ian passed through the area on September 29, 2022 in Fort Myers Beach, Florida. The hurricane brought high winds, storm surge and rain to the area causing severe damage. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The other two suspects, Brandon Mauricio Araya and Steve Eduardo Sanchez Araya are both 20-year-old males who may be related. They traveled together from the same address in Cape Coral. Upon arrest, all four were booked under the same charge — burglary of an unoccupied structure during a state of emergency. Furthermore, both, Brandon and Steve along with Valerie were accused of stealing items worth $750 to $5,000 and were also arrested for grand theft. All four will be tried on October 31, at Lee County's Circuit Court. 

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Speaking at a press conference, Florida Governor DeSantis warned, "Don't even think about looting, don't even think about taking advantage of people in this vulnerable situation. I can tell you, in the state of Florida, you never know what may be lurking behind somebody’s home." He also referred to Florida as being a "Second Amendment state" while adding, "At the end of the day, we are not going to allow lawlessness to take advantage of this situation."

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