A Cedar Rapids lawmaker wants to double the criminal fines for burglarizing property damaged in a natural disaster.
Senator Rob Hogg says thievery was a serious problem after the 2008 flooding in Cedar Rapids.
“I mean this is victimization on top of victimization,” Hogg says. “And we have simply got to do what we can to deter that.”
Hogg says while the state cannot afford to increase jail time for such a crime, thieves ought to at least pay higher fines if they knowingly target homes or businesses that’ve been damaged by Mother Nature.
“Can you imagine the horror that people have experienced when they’ve lost their home in a flood and then let’s say they’re starting to do some renovations there and they have stuff stolen or they haven’t started renovations and suddenly all of their copper wire is gone?” Hogg asks.
Hogg is sponsoring legislation to impose higher fines for a variety of property-related crimes in a disaster zone for three years after an area receives a state or federal disaster declaration.
“We need to step in now and do something to deter crime,” Hogg says. “People need to know, if you’re going to commit a crime against somebody who has been victimized in natural disaster, you’re going to pay for it.”
If Hogg’s bill is approved, it would double the fines for those found guilty of robbery, burglary, arson, illegal dumping or vandalism in a disaster area.