Personalize Your APB Advertising Here
Back to the APB Online Home Page
APBNews: Today's Police and Crime News Across the Country
APB Safety Center: Protecting Yourself and Your Community
APB Crime Solvers: Help Solve Crimes Online
APB Media and Entertainment: Crime Media Coverage and Reviews
APB Criminal Justice Professionals: Inside the World of Law Enforcement
APB Resource Center: Local and National Crime Statistics and Resources
APB Criminal Justice System: Confronting the Criminal Justice System
APB Video Center: News and Feature Video from Around APB
Floyd Evacuation Opened Doors for Burglars
Break-in Rates Triple and Quadruple

Sept. 17, 1999

By Hans H. Chen

The deserted streets of downtown Savannah

SAVANNAH, Ga. ( -- When Savannah residents abandoned their gracious antebellum mansions under swaying boughs of Spanish moss Tuesday, they did so with the fear of Hurricane Floyd in their hearts.

But upon their return today, several Savannah residents discovered that the true danger lay not in Mother Nature but in fellow man.

Thieves took advantage of the mandatory evacuation order announced Monday to break into more than 50 homes in Savannah, police said. The Chatham County police reported another 19 burglaries in unincorporated areas surrounding Savannah.

Residents made it easy

Related Stories:

Floyd's Trail of Southern Devastation

Floyd Moves North; More States Declare Emergencies

Hurricane Hits N.C. Coast

Man Shot Protecting His Storm Shutters

Hurricane States Target Disaster Profiteers

Related Forum:

Should people be forced to evacuate their homes, even if they don't want to?

Police said that's a rate three to four times higher than normal for a 48-hour period in the area.

"I'm sure they're going to increase as people continue to return home," said Cpl. Scott Simpkins, a spokesman for the Chatham County Police Department. "Hopefully they won't. Nineteen's enough."

The burglaries took place despite round-the-clock patrols by police officers from both Savannah and Chatham County working 12-hour shifts, but in some cases, residents made burglaries all too easy, police said.

"Not all of them were forcible entry," Simpkins said. "One lady left her garage door open, and the reason was that she was afraid there wasn't going to be any electricity when she returned."

Troops patrolled business area

Although troops from the Georgia National Guard began patrolling shopping centers and the city's central business area after the storm passed Thursday, they did not patrol the city or county while it was evacuated.

"Our primary role was security yesterday when people were coming back in," said Lt. Col. Jim Driscoll, a spokesman for the Georgia National Guard. "We ended up seeing only limited deployment."

In Myrtle Beach, S.C., police reported that they arrested 17 people Tuesday night for violating the 10 p.m. curfew. Several of the suspects were arrested lurking about the downtown business area.

"In some cases, we got them before they got to the point of doing something they weren't supposed to," said Mark Kruea, a city spokesman.

Robbers could be neighbors

In Wilmington, N.C., police restricted beach access only to returning drivers with the proper residency stickers on their cars. Although authorities called the measure a traffic-control issue, limiting access to evacuated areas also may have prevented burglaries.

"I wouldn't say it's to keep burglars out," said Kelly Strickland, an official with Wrightsville Beach, a community east of Wilmington. "It's more or less to keep people out who want to gawk or sightsee."

Police in Savannah, however, had a more difficult task in keeping homes safe. The police prevented re-entry into the city by allowing traffic on the interstates only to drive outbound. But many Savannah residents ignored the evacuation and stayed home.

"It could have been next-door neighbors," Simpkins said. "Who knows, the burglars could have been somebody that didn't go out."

This report contains material from the Associated Press.

Hans H. Chen is an staff writer (

More from

Parole Notices Going Online

Go to APB Breaking News
Updated: September 20, 1999 

FBI Wants More Time for Gun Checks

Security Lapses Still Found at Weapons Labs

Hurricane Cited in Officer's Suicide

Infoseek Fires Arrested Executive

Worshippers Return to Massacre Church

Mississippi to Move Against Frankel

Clinton Blames Gun Culture for Mass Murders

11-Year-Old to be Tried as Adult

Crooked Cop Initiated LAPD Scandal

Caller ID Ends National Manhunt

FBI Offers Russia Aid in Terror Bombings

Confessed Kidnap Killer Refuses to Enter Plea

Three Charged in $1.6 Million Museum Heist

'RuPaul of Robbers' Busted in Baton Rouge

Gang-Rape Fugitive Kills Self

N.M. Blocks Online Raffles

Dragging Defendant Takes Stand

Sheppard's Son to Embark on Crime Walk

Sacred Objects Returned to Navajos

Virginia Executes Child Rapist, Killer

Anti-Cyberstalking Laws Urged

Clinton Refuses to Hand Over Clemency Papers

Cops Eye Suspect as Serial Rapist

 Breaking News Archives

To Inform And Serve  ©Copyright 1999 APB Multimedia Inc. All rights reserved.