About 175 Hurricane Katrina Looting Suspects Await Trial

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Beer, cigarettes, gas, generators and liquor top the list of the most common items stolen by looters in Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina.

Looting charges have put 175 people in the Harrison County jail. Most of the suspects are out on bond awaiting trial, which could take a year or longer.

The First Judicial District in Gulfport had to assemble a grand jury after the storm, requiring several weeks to find enough people to serve. Their case load is three months behind and new cases are being filed every day.

Officials say cases in the Second Judicial District in Biloxi may move a little faster, noting the district covers a smaller region and a grand jury was in place before the hurricane.

Law enforcement officials reported thousands of looters after the storm and frustrations that officers were outnumbered by groups of looters until visiting officers arrived to help.

Some residents armed themselves to protect their property. A few held suspects at gunpoint until police arrived.

The maximum prison time for looting is 15 years.