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Looters’ paradise? Lawlessness reportedly rampant in Caribbean islands devastated by Hurricane Irma

Business owners on one of the Caribbean islands ravaged by Hurricane Irma say the government needs to send in the Marines — literally — and increase patrols to combat the thieves and looters running rampant at Sint Maarten’s shopping destination.

Elsewhere on the island, men armed with guns and machetes are terrorizing residents and tourists alike, while some wait on piers to steal the bounty of boats and ships carrying aid to the devastated community.

“We can’t sleep in peace because of the thieves,” Yovanny Roque, 48, said.

Residents of the small island – divided in the 17th century into the French territory of Saint-Martin and the Dutch territory of Sint Maarten – say they have to hide inside their homes and in makeshift shelters as night falls, fearful of robbers roaming the streets.

On Frontstreet, a shopping destination for the thousands of tourists who arrive via cruise ships each year, looters broke into a customs office and stole arms, according to reports.

Anthea Turner, a tourism and cruise expert who has worked with business owners on St. Martin for more than 19 years, told Fox News on Tuesday that looters were going storefront to storefront stealing all they could.

The Caribbean tourist destination has been working its way out of the wreckage heaped on it last week by Irma, churning as a full Category 5 storm when it blasted the island. Cars lie tossed upside down, large boats lean sideways on dry land and debris from businesses and homes fill the streets.

Some say the destruction is on a “biblical scale.”

Reports of rampant looting broke just hours after the devastating storm.

Massimiliano Napoliello, the manager at a bar at Sonesta Maho Resort, wrote on Facebook over the weekend: “The situation in SXM is a HELL!!!”

“They are completely isolated and there are CRIMINALS carrying GUNS AND KNIVES SHOOTING and looting all over! NOTHING IS WORKING, THERE ARE NO RULES, THERE IS NO LAW AND NO PROTECTION RIGHT NOW!”

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/

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