HOUSTON- A Hurricane Harvey looter who was on parole was sentenced to 20 years in prison for stealing thousands of dollars’ worth of electronics and tobacco products from a Walmart that was closed during the storm.
On August 29, 2017, as millions of Houstonians struggled to keep their loved ones and possessions from the water’s reach, Thomas Gamelin, 38, was stealing televisions and cigarettes.
“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.”
At the time of the crime, a Houston Police unit was driving by the store on Silber Road.
An officer saw a Ford van that appeared to have been used to smash open the cart doorway, and Gamelin carrying a television. Surveillance video also captured the crime.
Gamelin was arrested and charged with burglary of a building. He was convicted by a jury after a two-day trial that ended Wednesday, then sentenced by the judge.
The total amount of stolen items was $5,228.
Gamelin was on parole for a drug conviction at the time of the incident.