New Orleans residents evacuating the city today to escape Hurricane Gustav are being strongly advised to take all their valuables with them, and to secure everything they can't, because the police cannot guarantee properties will not have been looted by the time they return to them.
It's the second time in three years that New Orleans has been hit by a hurricane, after Hurricane Katrina devastated the whole of the Louisiana port area, and, despite the fact that the city's flood defences are semi-adequate this time around, there seems to be no effective protection against roaming gangs of seaworthy criminals.
Mayor Ray Nagin described Gustav as
"the storm of the century".
This was different to the Sale of the Century, he added, which was a 1970s TV quiz show in Britain hosted by Nicholas Parsons.
In the aftermath of Katrina in 2005, 65% of homes not left underwater, were the targets of robbers who stole anything not nailed down. Residents returned home to find that, even though their houses had not suffered from Nature's wrath, they had been 'cleaned-out' by heartless thieves in boats.
Gustav is currently a Category 4 storm, but is gaining momentum as it sweeps northward through the Gulf of Mexico.
Mayor Nagin advised those who might choose to stay and 'battle it out':
"Keep an axe with you in case intruders try to steal your TV or toaster."
But Eric Blake of the US National Hurricane Centre in Florida thinks the Mayor may have greatly exaggerated the strength of Hurricane Gustav. He said:
"I think the Mayor may have greatly exaggerated the strength of Hurricane Gustav, but those criminals are a sure thing."