14 people in Houston area arrested on looting charges

14 people in Houston area arrested on looting charges
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Fourteen people in the Houston area have been arrested on looting charges over the past 48 hours as Hurricane Harvey floods the region.

If convicted, the defendants will face steeper punishments since the acts were committed during a crisis, according to a prosecutor's statement provided to NBC News. 

The offenders, who were arrested by the Houston Police Department and the Harris County Sheriff's Office for allegedly looting residential and commercial properties during and after Harvey, will be subject to a Texas law that mandates increased punishments for crimes committed in a disaster area, the statement said.

Harris County encompasses the city of Houston, which has been devastated by extensive flooding caused by the hurricane's record rainfall. 

"People displaced or harmed in this storm are not going to be easy prey," Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said in the statement from her office. "Anyone who tries to take advantage of this storm to break into homes and businesses should know that they are going to feel the full weight of the law." 

"Offenders will be processed around the clock without delay," she added. 

The District Attorney for Montgomery County, which neighbors Houston, announced Monday that people caught looting in the area will be arrested and, if found guilty, sentenced to mandatory jail time.