Will Looting Be A Problem In Sandy’s Aftermath?

With some East Coast cities still flooded and 8 million left without power, reports of mayhem begin trickling in. It begins on Coney Island. posted on

A flooded Mermaid Avenue in Brooklyn’s Coney Island.

In his first post-Sandy press conference, Governor Chris Christie announced there had been no reports of looting in New Jersey’s evacuation zones or areas without power. Newark Mayor Cory Booker also tweeted that police “have reported ZERO looting or crimes of opportunity in Newark.” On Tuesday afternoon, an NYPD spokesman said he could not confirm any looting incidents in the New York City area.

Yet looting reports continued to surface on Twitter—an exceptional source for rumors, fake photos, and unconfirmed information this hurricane.

Some reports, however, had more solid sourcing.

Just before 11:30 a.m., @nycarecs —an account that posts updates from city radio communications and is part of FEMA’s National Preparedness Coalition—tweeted that NYPD was “responding to looters in Coney Island right now, going into stores. Seveal [sic] cases of this, also, many cars broken into last night.”

The situation is still developing:

Mass group lootings continue in Coney island. Police working very hard to stop them #nypd" target="_blank">">#nypd #sandy" target="_blank">">#sandy #nyc" target="_blank">">#nyc

#NYPD" target="_blank">">#NYPD calling for more cops, people "breaking into all stores" around Mermaid Ave. #crime" target="_blank">">#crime #nyc" target="_blank">">#nyc #sandy" target="_blank">">#sandy

Officers from 67 and 66 precincts helping in the 60 with the looters running rampant in Coney Island #brooklyn" target="_blank">">#brooklyn #nyc" target="_blank">">#nyc #sandy" target="_blank">">#sandy

Police in Coney Island shouting into the radio "mass looting over here." Other precincts helping out. #nyc" target="_blank">">#nyc

'Chief of Department' of the #NYPD" target="_blank">">#NYPD now @ Coney Island with the boys in blue from many precincts trying to stop the looting crowds #nyc" target="_blank">">#nyc

#NYPD" target="_blank">">#NYPD escalating mass looter situation to a 'Level One' asking for the Boro Task Force for manpower to come assemble at location #sandy" target="_blank">">#sandy #nyc" target="_blank">">#nyc

#NYPD" target="_blank">">#NYPD calling for paddy wagon to lock up looters in Coney Island. Over 25 cops dealing with looters now on one street - Mermaid.

When Hurricane Irene hit the East Coast last year, looting began right before the storm rolled in. But during Hurricane Katrina — a disaster as famous for its crime spree as its physical damage — the looting wave began one day after the hurricane.

So can we expect a few days of looting in Sandy’s wake? Or is Coney Island an isolated incident? @nycarecs reports that NYPD’s 60th Precinct in Coney Island was evacuated after flooding Monday night. The Daily News reports eight officers were treated for hypothermia. A weakened, evacuated police force may have encouraged looters.

Sean Michael Pagano, an investigator with the New York State Police department (and Long Island lacrosse coach) told Lacrosse Magazine he was transferred to an “anti-looting patrol” while Sandy made landfall.

“People usually don’t loot in the middle of a hurricane — they wait until the end — but the weather is kind of crazy,” he said. “But there are still some crazy people out, driving around and seeing what’s going on. At least I’m getting paid for this.”

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