9 arrested after TV video shows looting during Hurricane Irma

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As Hurricane Irma barrelled down on Florida, police departments across the state issued warnings to would-be thieves hoping to take advantage of the chaos and anarchy that can erupt after a major natural disaster.

Nine people caught on camera looting at a sporting goods store during Hurricane Irma were arrested in Fort Lauderdale Sunday, police said.

In video, it appeared a window was first broken at Simon's Sportswear and several people entered taking what they could carry.

The same group then looted a Footlocker and CashAmerica Pawn Store in the same area, WPLG reported.

A short while later, Fort Lauderdale City Manager Lee Feldman tweeted a photo of a looter being arrested by police.

The megastorm is estimated to be around 400 miles wide and more than 6.3 million people have been evacuated from Florida - one of the biggest exoduses in U.S. history.

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The looting came just as Fort Lauderdale started to feel the effects of Irma, which made landfall in many parts of Florida on Sunday morning.

Around five million people have been left without power and residents are battling winds of up to 130mph.

The crimes happened even before the height of the storm swept into South Florida Sunday, authorities said.

"Fast-moving tornado just reported at Fort Lauderdale International Airport moving NW crossing I-595", the NWS tweeted. Miami Beach barred outsiders from the island.

Burglaries are one of the major reasons that at times people refuse to evacuate their homes.

"Do not think the storm is over when the wind slows down", Scott said at a briefing Saturday. A storm surge of over three metres was recorded in the Keys, and forecasters warned some places on the mainland could get up to over four metres of water.

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