Looters Prey On Sandy's Hardest Hit

PHOTO: In this aerial photo, sand fills the streets in the wake of superstorm Sandy, Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012, along the central Jersey Shore, N.J.
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As most New Yorkers band together to rebuild a broken city, some are making that job a bit tougher -- namely, looters.

So far, there have been more than 30 reported instances of looting, mostly in outer neighborhoods. Eight suspects were arrested in Coney Island, and four in Far Rockway on Monday, according to Paul J. Browne, the Deputy Commissioner of the New York City Police Department. Another young woman was arrested in Coney Island for criminal possession of a firearm, when "the safe she was caring from a store was found to contain a firearm," according to Browne. The four arrests in Rockaway stemmed from the looting of a Radio Shack and some may have even been employees of the store, he told ABC/Univision in an email. Radio Shack did not respond to a request for comment.

The New York Post also reported that witnesses saw looters rummaging through Ann Taylor and Brookstone merchandise in Rockaway. And on Long Island, four men were arrested and charged with planning to loot a business damaged in the storm, according to reports by CBS news.

In their first post-Sandy press conferences, Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie maintained that there had been no reports of looting yet as a result of the storm, and Newark Mayor Cory Booker tweeted later that day that his city had seen no looting whatsoever.

But, New York City is devoting special resources to areas that have already been susceptible to post-storm thievery. According to Deputy Commissioner Browne, "police presence was stepped up along Mermaid Avenue and its vicinity, and additional light towers were erected."

Although some homeowners in the area did consider the potential of looters in advance. One Twitter user posted an image allegedly taken during Hurricane Sandy of a boarded up house with the words "Please loot, I love to shoot," spray painted across the doorway.

Deputy Commissioner Browne said that there was no additional looting in Coney Island after the NYPD increased police presence there.

Looting is not unique to Sandy's aftermath. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, and Hurricane Irene, dozens of looting incidents were reported in New Orleans and New York City, respectively.

The New York Daily News caught up with an alleged looter on Tuesday, who defended his actions, saying, "Look, they've been looting our wallets for too long,"as he took a TV from a Rent-A-Center in Coney Island. "It's about time we start taking this sh—back," he added.

Witnesses of looting near Coney Island told The Wall Street Journal that it was occurring in plain sight, and that police officers did little to stop it.

"When I came out at about 8:30 a.m. this morning, there were people coming out of all these stores, guys carrying Hefty bags," Roger McKinon, 40 years old, who lives in Coney Island told the Wall Street Journal. "The crazy thing was, there were cops around but all they were saying is get out of here, go home."

The NYPD did not immediately respond to request for comment.

UPDATE: NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly announced on Thursday afternoon that 18 individuals were arrested for looting at a Key Foods in Coney Island, and 2 more were arrested in Staten Island. The story has been updated to reflect these additional lootings.

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