June 18, 2019



AUSTIN - Legislation authored by State Rep. Ryan Guillen (D-Rural South Texas) that would protect property during state disasters has been signed into law by Governor Abbott.


"In the wake of community disasters, Texan’s property is increasingly vulnerable to burglary and arson," Guillen said. "This legislation will ensure that the penalty for such offenses reflects the severity of taking advantage of those sensitive situations."

During the immediate aftermath of a natural disaster, emergency workers and law enforcement are often stretched thin, and residents may have been forced to evacuate their homes, leaving behind their valuable property. Instead of focusing on protecting and rebuilding during those stressful hours, some choose to take advantage of the situation by stealing and defacing their community. As a result, Texas Penal Code includes provisions to increase the penalty for various crimes committed in a disaster area. HB 1028 goes a step further, and amends that section of the Penal Code to include burglary of a vehicle, burglary of vending machines, trespassing and arson to the list of offences carrying an increased penalty during a state disaster.

During a time of emergency, dealing with an act of arson is devastating to families. Additionally, a 2010 study by Louisiana State University, examining city crime after hurricane Rita, identified a significant short-term increase in small burglaries and auto theft. Knowing you could be charged with the highest degree of felony during these disaster situations will help deter people from making the decision to commit those crimes.


"Texans recovering from disasters should be focused on rebuilding and coming together as a community, not worrying about threats to their property." concluded Guillen.

Serving ten rural South Texas counties in the Texas House of Representatives, Ryan Guillen is known for his hard work, fierce independence, and relentless efforts for South Texas families. Recently, Capitol Inside called him a “House Bill Machine,” and a “one-person assembly line for legislation.” Since elected, few other legislators have passed more bills than Guillen. Sign up for updates at,, and