As the Woolsey Fire continues to rage through some of the most expensive real estate in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties, celebrities like Lady Gaga, Kim Kardashian, and Gerard Butler have been forced to flee their Malibu estates. The Pacific Coast Highway became the only route for safe evacuation, and quickly became jammed as a caravan full of cars, trucks, and SUVs packed with the most precious documents, belongings, and furry family members made the slow trek to safer places in the city.
Leaving behind their homes to the fate of the Santa Ana winds and the flames was hard enough, but in the midst of tragedy, there is always someone who is ready to take advantage of the vulnerabilities and chaos that come in the wake of a natural disaster. For some, it’s tempting to scavenge through the possible high-end treasures that could be found amongst the rubble or plunder the unscathed houses where security systems have no power.
On Friday, November 9th authorities made two arrests in separate incidents of looting, one in which resulted in a police pursuit, but have made no details as to the arrests or exact location of which community was being targeted. Since the fire is devastating some of the most affluent communities in California, 200 additional deputies have been deployed to patrol the streets, private roads, and properties in hopes to deter anyone looking to take advantage of this horrific situation.
In a televised press conference on the morning of November 17th, Ventura County Sergeant Eric Buschow warned the community and viewers, “If you come here with the intent of taking advantage of the situation, we will arrest you and you will go to jail.”
Under California Penal Code 463 these looters will face misdemeanor criminal charges which could result in probation as well us up to a year in county jail.
For the person that decided to try and evade cops, he or she will also face additional charges of Reckless Evading a Police Officer, under California Vehicle Code 2800.2 which will result in fines and up to another 364 days in fail if charged as a misdemeanor, or up to a 10,000 fine and up to 3 years in state prison if charged as a felony.