If you live in Houston in these difficult times, our thoughts and prayers go out to you. You have plenty to worry about — flooding, clean water, electricity, shelter, insurance, and even just finding food and water. The last thing you should have to worry about is criminals posing as Department of Homeland Security “agents”.
Yet, according to Fox News, that’s just what DHS is warning residents of Houston of, citing reports that thieves are impersonating agents with the federal agency and ordering people to evacuate their houses. These criminals will then loot the empty houses.
“The city of Houston said people should ask anyone knocking on their doors for official badges and credentials with their name and organization,” Fox News reported. “The city’s statement also noted that, during Harvey relief efforts, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is not conducting immigration enforcement operations in the area.”
Authorities were compelled to issue a warning because of “disturbing reports” that roving criminals were pretending to be individuals with Homeland Security Investigations.
“Real HSI officials wear badges that are labeled ‘special agent,’ which members of the public can ask to see and verify,” a statement from Homeland Security said. “ICE officers with Enforcement and Removal Operations also wear badges labeled with ‘ERO Officer.’ They also carry credentials with their name and organization. Members of the public who receive such visitors should ask to see these properly labeled badges, and their credentials.”
The statement also mentioned that HSI officials would be conducting Hurricane Harvey relief work in conjunction with local authorities, instead of on their own.
If you live in Houston, or anywhere that’s been harmed by Hurricane Harvey, watch out. If something seems suspicious, there’s usually a reason for that! Use your instinct, ask the right questions, and most importantly, stay safe. Your family and your home may depend upon it.