After Hurricane Irma Looters Target Lakeland, Polk County

Damage in a Lakeland neighborhood. Photo: Lakeland Police Department Facebook.

It was a long week of preparation and anticipation before Hurricane Irma finally arrived but when it did it left a path of devastation behind in Polk County.

The category two storm rolled through Polk County Sunday night taking down trees and power lines. With power out a lot of businesses in Lakeland alone have no reopened and crime remains a threat in the county.

On Monday five Orlando men were arrested for burglarizing a Starbucks and attempting to do the same to a motel, said the Lakeland Police Department.

Kevin Owen Mervilus, 19; Nyree Lashi Tucker, 20; Joqavius Wright, 19; Kevin Grant Smith, 19; and Tomante Terrell Harris, 34, told police the aftermath of Hurricane Irma is what drew them to target Lakeland.

Two men were seen at the Roadway Inn, 4645 N. Socrum Loop Road, pulling on door handles. The other three men were seen by police in the Starbucks, on Socrum Loop Road, parking lot. The trio took off on foot when approached by police.

Four cash registers were found on the floor when police went inside the coffee shop. Officers immediately arrested Mervilus who was caught in the roadway with $182 in his pocket. Tucker and Wright were also apprehended in a wooded area near Fernery Road.

Tucker had $182 in his pocket, and a large amount of cash and coins were found on the ground near Wright along with some Starbucks stirrers.

Throughout interviews, it was determined Smith and Harris were involved in the burglary. All five men were transported to the Polk County Jail.

Police officers continue to monitor Polk County while linemen continue to work hard to restore power to the county. Residents have been reporting attempted home burglaries since just before Hurricane Irma hit. Always check in with local police about whether some burglary reports are accurate or not.

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Allison Leslie is a University of South Florida graduate with a bachelors degree in Mass Communications. She joined Genesis in 2016. With a passion for sports, Allison has interned with 620 WDAE, Pewter Report, Trifecta Team: St. Petersburg Bowl, Bullscast, and many other publications. Being a native to the Bay Area, she has followed and supported Tampa Bay teams her whole life.