As millions of flood-ravaged Texans grapple with the widespread devastation wreaked by Hurricane Harvey, federal officials are warning them not to fall victim to people seeking to take advantage of their vulnerability.
The Houston Chronicle said Wednesday that there were reports of people impersonating federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, as well as firefighters, going door to door in neighborhoods where residents have not been forced to evacuate.
Jody Garcia, a volunteer firefighter in San Leon, Texas, told the newspaper that the impersonators have been telling those residents that they need to evacuate due to the flooding, waiting for the residents to leave and then stealing their belongings.
Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo confirmed the reports Wednesday, telling residents that if someone claiming to be an ICE agent knocks on their door, ask to see their badge. As the Bellaire Patch noted, real ICE agents carry badges that read “special agent.” The outlet further pointed out that officers with the agency’s Enforcement and Removal Operations unit also carry badges that read “ERO officer.”
But, chances are if someone with an ICE badge comes knocking on doors in Houston, then they’re an imposter. That’s because, amid the Hurricane Harvey devastation, ICE agents aren’t even out and about in Houston.
“[Homeland Security Investigations] has no agents deployed in the field walking neighborhoods,” Acevedo said, according to Bellaire Patch.
“If you see it, that’s an impersonator,” Acevedo added.
This isn’t the first issue with looters in flood-ravaged Houston in recent days. On Monday, looters were shooting at firefighters and other officials as they tried to rescue victims. And in one video looters were spotted walking into a Houston-area grocery store and brazenly stealing items.
As of Tuesday, Acevedo said that police had arrested 14 people for looting.
(H/T: Daily Mail)