Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton warned that price gouging and looting will not be tolerated in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. There are reports that some stores, such as Best Buy, were selling bottled water at twice the usual rate. However, Best Buy has since apologized and claimed that the problem was localized.

Paxton told Fox News on Thursday, "The legislators are taking this very seriously." He added, "[Price gougers] can be fined up to $20,000, and if you do this to someone 65 and older, you can be fined up to $250,000." His office has received complaints and photographs from citizens who are reporting overcharges from everything from water, fuel, and lodging.

"People are selling cases of water for $100," said Paxton. Paxton, a Republican, said that his office has received photos of businesses charging $20 for a gallon of gasoline. Technology, he said, has been "greatly helpful to us in tracking this down."

The curfew is helping to tamp down looting. "It is frustrating when you're trying to focus on saving lives and you have to deal with looters. It is extremely frustrating, but I don't think we have had that many instances of it," said Paxton. "I think we might see more, but as the water keeps coming, it is even hard for the looters to get around."

Police will have to decide whether looters are stealing necessities for themselves and family members, or expensive non-essentials. "Someone just trying to get water or food to survive, that is a whole different deal than someone coming into your house to steal everything you have," said Paxton.

Volunteers of the Cajun Navy -- a group of Louisianans engaged in rescue efforts -- reported earlier this week that unknown persons tried to steal their boats, and also shot at them. There are also reports of persons identifying themselves as law officers or from FEMA who then loot homes.



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Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.

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