An aerial view of flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Texas, on August 31, 2017. Wednesday, a Houston man was sentenced to 20 years in prison for looting a Walmart during the worst natural disaster in the region's recent history. File Photo by Staff Sgt. Daniel J. Martinez/Air National Guard/UPI | License Photo
April 5 (UPI) -- A Texas man was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Wednesday for looting a Walmart during Hurricane Harvey.
After a two-day trial, Thomas Gamelin, 38, was convicted of stealing $5,228 worth of electronics and tobacco products from a Houston Walmart on Aug. 28. A police officer saw Gamelin carrying a television outside the store, which was closed at the time, and arrested him for burglary.
The incident was also caught on surveillance cameras.
Gamelin was charged with burglary. He was already on probation for a drug conviction at the time of his arrest.
Assistant District Attorney Joshua Raygor Gamelin said the two-decade sentence was justified.
"Our city was in the midst of the worst natural disaster in its history, and the defendant saw that as the perfect opportunity to take advantage and try to make a profit," Raygor said in a statement. "While so many people were coming together to help others, Thomas Gamelin was off on his own looting."
During the hurricane, Houston law enforcement officials warned the public they would have a zero-tolerance approach towards looting and those convicted would face mandatory jail time.
"Leniency and probation will be off the table for these offenses committed during this time," the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office said in August.
In October, KPRC-TV in Houston counted 20 people who were arrested for looting during the hurricane.
The looting targets included vehicles and homes, as well as chain stores and wine bars.