Thomas Gamelin, who was on parole when he was arrested for looting during Harvey hurricane, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for stealing thousands of dollars worth of electronics and tobacco from a Walmart store in the Memorial area.
Gamelin, 38, was arrested on August 29 after a Houston police officer saw him carrying a television out of the Walmart on Silber to a Ford van, which had been used to enter the store by smashing into a metal doorway for shopping carts. Chron reported.
Surveillance video captured the nighttime crime, prosecutors said. The total amount of the stolen items was $5,228, and Thomas Gamelin was on parole for a drug conviction at the time.
“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,” Assistant District Attorney Joshua Raygor said. “While so many people were coming together to help others, Thomas Gamelin was off on his own looting.”
About 40 people were arrested for looting during Harvey hurricane, but the crime was down for the period during the storm. From August 25-31, Houston Police Department wrote nearly 22 percent fewer reports for major crimes defined by the FBI as aggravated assault, auto theft, robbery, theft, rape, and murder than it did over the same periods during the two previous years.
Reports made for robberies dropped almost in half; those for assaults and auto thefts fell slightly, and there were 11 reports of rape and three for murder.
After reports of looting erupted during the storm, county leaders enacted a curfew and District Attorney Kim Ogg publicized that prosecutors would seek the maximum 20 years in federal prison for the second-degree felony.
Prosecutors said Thomas Gamelin broke into the Walmart about 11:30 p.m. and was arrested about 2:30 a.m.