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Man faces steeper penalties for alleged restaurant break-in during state of emergency for Dorian

Could get 10 extra years in prison if convicted
Posted at 1:05 PM, Sep 03, 2019

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Today, one man is learning the hard way that trying to taking advantage of a business during a state of emergency is a bad idea.

Contact 5 Investigator Katie LaGrone got her hands on the video that landed him in jail, and a warning from the state attorney.

We all know burglary is a crime, but the timing of when it allegedly happened makes the penalties even worse.

Business surveillance video shows a man, prosecutors say, who took advantage of a statewide emergency to take advantage of a restaurant.

Dontay Ramone Brice is paying the price. He is charged not only with burglarizing a popular Peruvian restaurant in Northwood Village Monday night, but doing it during a state of emergency, carrying the potential of tougher penalties.

Brice, who is homeless and has a history of convictions, faces an additional 10 years in prison if found guilty of stealing from Mestizo Peruvian Cuisine.

During a court hearing this morning, State Attorney Dave Aronberg made a rare appearance to help send a message to others looking to take advantage of businesses closed for the storm.

“We are obviously going to take it all very seriously because people have their defenses down, they’re worried about the power being out,” Aronberg said.

“We want to send a message to the community that we’re all in this together.”

Also in court were members of the area merchants association, who support added penalties for those who use a state of emergency as an opportunity to steal.

“We’re not going to support someone coming in and try to take advantage of us,” said one business owner.

While the restaurant remains boarded up and closed for Dorian, the man who police say made an unwelcome visit remains in jail. Robbing or burglarizing a business during a state of emergency also comes with higher bonds.

As for the suspect in the case, according to the restaurant’s owner, once he saw the cameras he ran away without stealing anything.