Two men were caught by police on Wednesday while they were attempting to steal a utility pole in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.
Jacksonville Police caught the thieves in broad daylight on the morning of Sept. 13.
The department’s sheriff’s office posted a photo of the looters on Facebook showing the two shirtless men sitting handcuffed on a street curb.
The thieves’ SUV can be seen in the photo with the long power pole strapped on top of the vehicle.
The post was captioned: “These two were caught stealing a JEA pole just this morning! Citizens watching out and officers cleaning up = partnership! #HurricaneIrma.”
In the photo it appears that the men’s t-shirts were used on the back of the pole for safety reasons.
The police department did not reveal what the men were going to do with the stolen power line, but one person on Facebook pointed out that they were probably going to try to sell it: “Selling it at the scrap yard, was their plan,” Scott Hill commented. Others commented that power lines contain copper, and may be what the thieves were trying to ultimately sell.
Another person said that the sheer size of the pole should have made the thieves think twice about stealing it.
“It takes a special kind of stupid to try and steal a pole this big,” one user commented.
The bizarre incident soon went viral on social media. As of writing on Thursday Sept. 14, the post has over 10,000 reactions and over 17,404 shares.
Jacksonville covers the Duval County in Florida. In a recent tweet, the Sheriff’s office said that there were still over 80,000 residents in the county without power.
“As of 6:30 a.m. there are approximately 83,475 without power in Duval County.
#Irma #JSO #JAX” the office tweeted on Sept. 14.
— Jax Sheriff's Office (@JSOPIO) September 14, 2017
The county has a total population of 913,010, according to 2015 data from the United States Census Bureau.
But the number of resident without power is much larger when counting all the affected areas in Florida. As of Wednesday afternoon, state officials estimated that one third, or 6.4 million residents, are still without power in the state, according to the Miami Herald.
Irma trigged one of the biggest blackouts the United States has seen, forcing up to 13 million people into the dark as the storm’s ferocious winds dragged power lines down. The Miami Herald reported that more than 50,000 utility workers from as far as Canada and California are helping with the effort.
“The industry’s Irma response is one of the largest and most complex power restoration efforts in U.S. history,” Tom Kuhn of the Edison Electric Institute told the Miami Herald. “Given the size and strength, infrastructure systems will need to be rebuilt completely in some parts of Florida.”
As millions of people who evacuated before the storm now return back to their homes, they could face days without electricity as the late-summer heat continues.