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Police on watch for looters in Herriman fire area



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HERRIMAN -- The fire isn't the only thing that worries the people evacuated from their homes in Herriman. Looting in evacuated neighborhoods is a concern police addressed early Monday.

Unified Police say they take security seriously and will aggressively pursue looters. They'll have 60 officers in the area Monday night.

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"I don't want to send the message that we've got a lot of looting going on, ‘cause it simply isn't the case," said Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder. "But we did have one incident, and I have to tell people we're taking it doggone serious, and anybody caught in these areas without permission we'll be charging."

Police are investigating that single looting incident, which the sheriff called a "suspicious circumstance."

A homeowner within the evacuation area confronted the suspect at gunpoint around 2:30 a.m., and held him there until officers arrived.

"Luckily we had our resources roving the area and actually overheard the confrontation," Winder said. "So the police were on scene before we ever even got a call."

They arrested a juvenile and later released him to his parents.

Winder says police will increase security within the evacuated areas to keep homes safe until the fire is under control and homeowners are able to go home.

"During the night we will be staffed up appropriately to ensure that nobody is in these areas that have been evacuated and damaging, harming, or stealing property from our residents," he said.

Winder says they will charge people for cruising through evacuated areas.

As for people who refuse to leave their homes, Winder says it could pose a safety issue for more than just homeowners. He says police and firefighters will try and protect residents who stay despite being told to leave the dangerous areas, which could put the lives of emergency responders in danger.

As of Monday afternoon, residents who need to return to their homes required a police escort and could only return if it was a necessity.

People with those emergencies can arrange for an escort at the Herriman Fire Station.

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Story compiled with contributions from Jed Boal and Cleon Wall.

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