When it comes to looters, what rights do homeowners have?

Aug 31, 2023, 8:30 PM

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a news conference Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2023, in Perry, Fla., in ...

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a news conference Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2023, in Perry, Fla., in the aftermath of Hurricane Idalia. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

(AP Photo/John Raoux)

SALT LAKE CITY — Officials in Florida are still trying to assess the extent of the damage from Hurricane Idalia. Photos are showing catastrophic damage to homes and businesses. These photos also show belongings all over yards, which is setting the stage for looters. 

During a hurricane briefing with the media, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis warned those looters there is a possibility they may be shot.

“I also just remind looters that people, you never know what you are walking into,” DeSantis said. “People have a right to defend their property.”

KSL Legal Analyst Greg Skordas discusses with KSL NewsRadio what legal rights Utah homeowners have to protect their property.


Consequences for looters

Is it even legal to shoot if people loot?

“If you’re in the home,” Skordas said. “You can guard your home, at least in Utah. It sounds like Florida law is very, very similar. I’m not sure it’s the greatest message to send out ‘you loot, we shoot.’ But if the idea is to discourage or deter looters that could make sense.”

Under Utah law, Skordas said if somebody is trying to break into your home, you’re entitled to defend your home.

“And that includes the use of deadly force,” he said. “If you reasonably believe it was necessary at the time.”

Under a scenario, where a home is unlivable as a result of a disaster, and the owner is cleaning up the property and spots a looter. Skordas said the homeowner doesn’t have the same right.

“The short answer to that. . . is no,” he said. “Because they’re not a threat to him physically. Now, he can certainly call the police and take reasonable steps to detain them, including the use of force, which is not deadly force.”

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.  

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When it comes to looters, what rights do homeowners have?