Law enforcement officials are warning against people publicizing their evacuation plans, saying it could be an opportunity for crime.
The Horry County Sheriff’s Office posted a statement ahead of Hurricane Florence, which is expected to hit the Carolinas later this week.
“Consider keeping your evacuation plans private,” the post reads. “Publicizing your evacuation plans/routes may be opportunities of crime for people with bad intentions.”
Capt. John Harrelson with Horry County police said looting has never been a “significant issue” in the county during natural disasters, but could be a possibility,
“We have all boots on the ground,” he said. “We’ll continue to have units in all evacuated areas.”
According to South Carolina state law, anyone who goes onto another person’s property unlawfully and with criminal intent, damages property or takes property is guilty of a felony, and could be fined or taken to prison, or both.
North Myrtle Beach public safety officers also will be patrolling all areas of the city and have not had looting problems after past hurricanes, said city spokesperson Pat Dowling.
“People who are evacuating should secure their homes or businesses just as if they are leaving for vacation,” he said. “Don’t leave any valuables out in plain sight.”
Dowling said whatever items are not secured should be placed out of sight as best as possible.
In Georgetown County, sheriff’s deputies will be patrolling neighborhoods “around the clock,” said spokesperson Jason Lesley with Georgetown County Sheriff’s Office.
“To prevent looting, freedom of movement within the evacuation zones will be limited, especially at night, and deputy sheriffs will stop and ID those choosing to be mobile within the zones,” Lesley said.
Protect your home
Horry County Emergency Management advises to protect doors and windows during a natural disaster. Garages should also be shuttered or braced. Be sure to seal any openings, cracks or holes to prevent water from entering the home, Horry County EMD advises.
FEMA has information about flood and provides flood maps that define which areas are at risk of flooding.
City of Conway officials are also reminding people to keep their evacuation plans private, said city spokesperson Taylor Newell.
“People should also set their home or business security alarms if they have them before they evacuate and be sure to lock all doors and windows,” Newell said. “Community members who plan to not evacuate should help to be our eyes and ears in the community and call Conway police with any concerns.”
Hannah Strong: 843-444-1765, @HannahLStrong