Turkish security teams crack down on looters in quake-ravaged areas

Nearly 100 suspects arrested over allegedly looting quake-damaged buildings, prank calling victims in southern Türkiye

Merve Aydogan  | 11.02.2023 - Update : 11.02.2023
Turkish security teams crack down on looters in quake-ravaged areas


Turkish security teams on Saturday arrested at least 98 suspects over allegedly looting damaged buildings or prank calling victims after powerful earthquakes shook the region.

According to security sources who wished to remain anonymous due to media restrictions, the security teams carried out investigations into at least 42 suspects in Türkiye's southern Hatay province over claims of looting of quake-damaged buildings.

Forty suspects were arrested and security teams seized $11,000, 70,000 Turkish lira ($3,700), 20 cellphones, eight laptops, five appliances, six guns, and three rifles as well as jewelry and bank cards belonging to different people, said the sources.

Another two suspects, posing as aid workers, were arrested after allegedly trying to loot six-truckloads of food for quake victims in the Hatay province.

Separately, security teams arrested six suspects in Istanbul's Beykoz district over defrauding an earthquake victim in southern Gaziantep, by telephone.

The victim, Nedim Akarsu, was phoned by the suspects who introduced themselves as telecommunications workers and said they could help after he provides his personal banking information.

Akarsu notified police after realizing the money in his bank account had been moved to another account.

Six suspects were arrested.

Two laptops, a large number of cellphones, one unregistered gun, and criminal materials were seized by police teams.

According to local sources, a total of 48 suspects were arrested and seven others were released on bail as part of separate investigations in eight provinces.

As part of the separate investigations launched by prosecutors in the southern, quake-hit province of Kahramanmaras, three of five suspects were arrested as the search for the remaining two is ongoing.

The suspects are reportedly wanted for stealing appliances from a retail outlet.

In Kahramanmaras' Pazarcik district, another investigation was launched into three suspects accused of robbery.

Prosecutors in the southern Hatay province also launched an investigation into eight suspects accused of robbery and looting, including one fugitive.

In the Samandag and Hassa districts of Hatay, prosecutors began separate investigations into eight suspects, with five arrested for robbery.

Separately, an investigation was launched into seven suspects in the southeastern Adiyaman province, with two immediately arrested over robbing an earthquake-hit home in the middle of the night.

In the eastern Malatya province, 12 suspects accused of robbery and looting were identified, with one arrested, two detained, and a foreign national deported. The search is ongoing for the remaining suspects, according to sources speaking on condition of anonymity.

Prosecutors in the southern Osmaniye province issued an arrest warrant for 13 suspects over 11 different robbery incidents. Eleven of the suspects were arrested while two others were released on bail.

In the southern Adana province, eight out of 11 suspects were arrested and three others have been identified as fugitives in seven robbery incidents.

Prosecutors in Gaziantep also launched investigations into 17 suspects, with 11 arrested.

Additionally, six suspects were arrested after prosecutors in Sanliurfa launched 13 investigations into robbery and looting. Five other suspects have been released on bail, added the sources.

The magnitude 7.7 and 7.6 earthquakes, centered in Kahramanmaras, affected more than 13 million people across 10 provinces, and killed over 22,300 people, according to the latest figures.

Several countries in the region, including Syria and Lebanon, felt the strong tremors that struck Türkiye in the space of fewer than 10 hours.

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