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Alexander: Tougher sentences for looters

Alexander: Tougher sentences for looters

Looters who prey on the victims of emergencies should get tougher sentences than "garden variety" thieves, United Future's Marc Alexander said today.

Citing media reports of looting in this week's eastern Bay of Plenty floods and February's massive Manawatu-Wanganui floods, Mr Alexander said harsher sentences should be meted out to looters to reflect the public's disgust at their behaviour.

Teen hoods are reportedly using canoes to steal from flooded houses while the owners are living in emergency accommodation.

"In February, I asked the Minister of Civil Defence in Parliament whether he would ensure that the full force of the law is brought down on those who take advantage of people facing what would clearly be for anyone, one of the most traumatic experiences of their lives.

"However, there is no separate offence of looting under the Crimes Act, meaning that it is treated the same as normal thefts and burglaries," Mr Alexander, United Future's law and order spokesman, said.

"Any burglary or theft is bad, but looters prey on vulnerable people who already have to face rebuilding their shattered lives, yet they decide to twist the knife a bit further for petty personal gain."

Looting is an offence for members of the armed forces and is punishable by life imprisonment.

"We don't need to go that far, but we do need to send a powerful message," he said.

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