12 charged with looting during Pa. floods

Mario Ortiz, walks through floodwaters next to his home Thursday, Sept. 8, 2011, in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. Widespread flooding brought on by the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee was being blamed for two deaths in Pennsylvania, where inundated communities were evacuated and state offices closed down on Thursday because of the rising waters. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

September 13, 2011 8:23:33 AM PDT
A dozen people have been charged with looting homes as residents were ordered to evacuate because of massive flooding affecting parts of northeastern Pennsylvania last week.

Prosecutors in Luzerne County say burglary charges can be more severe if the crimes occur during a state of emergency like an evacuation.

District Attorney Jackie Musto Carroll called the looting "despicable" because residents had already been victimized of the flooding.

In one case, police say a woman tasked with watching a neighbor's home stole a big-screen television, a computer and various other items. In another, two men allegedly stole a shotgun, two rifles, watches, computers and tools.

Musto Carroll says the thefts are punishable by up to 10 years in prison.