Dallas County DA Seeks Enhanced Penalty for Tornado Looters

The Dallas County Criminal District Attorney's Office says they will seek enhanced penalties for anyone caught looting in tornado-ravaged areas of Dallas County.

According to the DA's office, "several people have already been arrested for stealing from homes and buildings hardest hit by as many as 10 tornadoes that struck on the night of Oct. 20."

The DAs office said they're using using a new law that went into effect on Sept. 1 that seeks harsher punishment for crimes, like burglary, assaults, and robberies, committed in disaster areas.

"Our Legislators in Austin got it right. They gave us some powerful tools to protect victims of disasters that we intend on using when appropriate," said Assistant District Attorney Robert Withers, in a statement.

The enhancement goes into effect anytime the president, the governor, or county judge or mayor declares a state of disaster.

"A burglary of a building normally carries a range of punishment between 180 days and two years confinement. However, under the new enhancement rule, a burglary of a building committed in a disaster zone can be punished between two and ten years in prison. If the burglary is of a home located in a disaster area, an individual now faces anywhere between five years to life in prison. The sentence for the same crime before September 1 was two to twenty years."

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