New York home and business owners have yet another thing to worry about, just one day after Hurricane Sandy ravaged the east coast. The city has been hit with looters hoping to cash in on pricey goods left inside abandoned buildings.
Police have arrested at least 13 people in connection with looting.
The stealing is not out of necessity – in fact, no acts of looting for food or water have been reported. Instead, the thieves are swiping clothes and electrical goods in New York’s hardest hit areas.
One of those areas is South Street Seaport – a historic part of town located near Manhattan’s financial district. The storm knocked out plate-glass windows from several stores, providing a playground for looters looking for easy merchandise.
“I saw two people walking by the Ann Taylor store and reach in and take some shirts that were just laying right there by the mannequin,” a local man told the New York Post. “It’s really messed up, man. They’re really taking advantage.”
Looters also scored fancy gadgets at a nearby Brookstone store before police arrived to stand guard in the area.
Perhaps the biggest kick in the face to the victims is that the looting suspects seem anything but ashamed of their actions. Many even used Twitter to map their looting sprees.
Area police have vowed that the thieves will not get away with their criminal acts.
“We will not tolerate these scumbags looting. We will arrest them on sight,” a police source said.
Additionally, the New York Police Department has transferred some of its staff to an anti-looting patrol team, according to BuzzFeed.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg has also tried to reassure the good citizens of New York, telling them that there is a “very heavy police presence” in the worst-hit areas.
But it’s not as simple as placing a few uniformed police officers in target areas, because the problem appears to be much more complex.
Perhaps it’s unsurprising that on Halloween, many of the thieves disguised themselves as utility workers from the New York energy company Con Edison in order to fool their victims.
“Guys were looting, pretending they were Con Ed and holding people up. It was sick,” cab driver Eric Martine told the New York Post.
It’s certainly conceivable to have utility workers visiting homes and businesses in an effort to turn on electricity in areas which are still powerless. But when criminals are posing as honest employees, who are New Yorkers to trust?
The worry has understandably put many residents and business owners on edge – and prompted them to form their own watch committees.
In the artsy neighborhood of Chelsea, many galleries have hired their own security guards. And in apartment buildings throughout the city, superintendents have taken on a second job, guarding their tenants’ property and belongings.
As for the shops that have been hit by looters – they have a long road of repairs and restocking before they can welcome honest, paying customers again.
“Almost everything is gone. We want to reopen, but we don’t know how,” store owner Mirza Baig told the New York Post.