Looters and speculators prey on areas damaged by Maui wildfires

Island residents said they have seen people stealing gas from tanks and have gotten calls from real estate investors looking to buy their property.

Wildfire wreckage is shown Thursday, Aug. 10, 2023, in Lahaina, Hawaii.
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

Nearly a week after Maui was ravaged by the deadliest wildfires in more than a century, and as residents continue to wait for word about their missing loved ones, a new set of problems has emerged: looters and speculators trying to cash in on the tragedy.

A local businessman said people desperate for gas and other scarce items are raiding the few businesses still standing in Lahaina, the historic city that was all but destroyed.

Bryan Sizemore, 48, a commercial sport fisherman and mechanical engineer who has lived on Maui for nearly 20 years, said he recently chased off several looters at gunpoint from his business.

“My boat exploded as a result of the flames, but my business somehow made it. But there’s been looters at my place, people stealing gas," Sizemore said Monday. "I’ve been sleeping there in my car... They’re poking holes into the gas tanks and draining them off."

And, Maui fire survivors said they are getting calls from real estate investors seeking to buy up what remains of their island homes and property.

"This is disgusting," Maui resident Tiare Lawrence told MSNBC's Katy Tur on Monday. "Lahaina is not for sale."

Read the full story here at NBCNews.com.

The search for victims of last week's devastating wildfires continues on the island of Maui as survivors begin the long process of rebuilding their lives after many have lost everything.
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