FACT CHECK: Is Looting Happening In Houston?

Ian Miles Cheong | Contributor

Reports of looting in Houston, Tx. have surfaced in the wake of the devastation left by Hurricane Harvey.

Verdict: True

As citizens of the city wade through floodwater and pouring rain to assess the damage caused by the natural disaster, some looters have taken the opportunity to criminally enrich themselves by stealing property left behind in retail shops and abandoned homes. Police have arrested several of them.

A further report from the volunteer organization Cajun Navy claims that looters fired on their boats as they attempted to rescue people.

Fact Check:

A handful of looters have been arrested since the reports surfaced—many of them fake, which spread like wildfire on social media under the hashtag #HarveyLootCrew.

Many of the photos posted to the hashtag are old, and the hashtag echoes the #FergusonLootCrew hoax perpetrated by a handful of Internet trolls from the “GNAA” who used the hashtag to spread lies about widespread looting during the Ferguson unrest in 2014.

The same group used the hashtag #SandyLootCrew in 2012 to spread anger and fear among New Jersey residents in the wake of Tropical Storm Sandy. Looting happened, but not to the extent that they tried to make it out to be.

However, one video—made viral on Twitter by the account Breaking911—appears to be real. However, the caption is an exaggeration.

The video, posted on Sunday by Isabel Torres on Facebook, looks to have been filmed in Houston. It shows two men stealing LCD TVs as they walk back and forth between vehicles and stores with their doors smashed in. It’s unclear if the police arrests were related to this instance of looting.

Journalists in Houston have informed The Daily Caller that they expect to see more instances of looting as the waters recede.

Houston police chief Art Acevedo told ABC News Monday morning that police are currently being deployed to rescue people stranded by the floods and protect the city from looters.

“We’ve already arrested a handful of looters,” he said. “We’ve made it real clear to our community we’re going to do whatever it takes to protect their homes and their businesses. And when people come from the outside to Houston, Texas, know we’re going to be out in the city, we’re not going to rest as a police department or law enforcement community until people restore their lives.”

The Harris County District Attorney’s Office has also issued a stern warning to looters, stating that anyone found looting will be brought to justice.

Ian Miles Cheong is a journalist and outspoken media critic. You can reach him through social media at @stillgray on Twitter and on Facebook. If you have a fact check suggestion, send your ideas to my DMs on Twitter. 

Ian Miles Cheong