Adan Salazar
October 30, 2012

We didn’t have to wait long for reports of looting in the wake of Hurricane Sandy to start coming in .


Earlier today, we covered seemingly the first case of looting in Philadelphia where a suspected looter was caught trapped beneath a collapsed building he’d allegedly attempted to loot, leaving him needing to be rescued by firefighters.

Now more reports are beginning to trickle in.

The Gothamist reported on about a dozen looters ransacking a Brookstone store on Fulton Street in the Manhattan borough earlier today. According to the Gothamist, a security guard on late-night patrol spotted the group with his flashlight, prompting them to scatter. “The looters, some of whom were already wearing the headphones, also absconded with a DVD projector that is usually displayed in the front of the store,” noted writer Christopher Robbins.

Also, according to the Queens Chronicle, reports of looting have also come from Howard Beach in the southwestern portion of Queens. Reportedly two banks and a pharmacy were looted forcing the Army National Guard to move in “possibly in an effort to quell the criminal activity.”

Nine looters were also arrested near the Rockaways in Queens stealing from a gas station, a Radio Shack, and a clothing store.

Reports of looting in Brooklyn have also come in. According to the NY Scanner twitter feed, multiple NYPD units were dispatched to the 60 precinct to deal with “Mobs who are looting storefronts in several neighborhoods.”

Additionally, a Brooklyn business-owner told the Wall Street Journal he arrived Tuesday morning to find his laundromat filled with people and another Brooklyn resident said police were standing around bewildered as the looting was taking place: “When I came out at about 8:30 this morning, there were people coming out of all these stores, guys carrying Hefty bags…The crazy thing was, there were cops around but all they were saying is get out of here, go home.”

This morning, a commenter on Infowars also stated that there were already two instances of looting of liquor stores in Atlantic City.

Indeed, some New Jersey and Delaware residents were even reluctant to evacuate their homes and businesses due to fears that looters would ransack their belongings.

As previously noted, the Atlantic’s Elspeth Reeve and Daily Beast’s Jonathon M. Katz published articles attempting to downplay the fact that looting is a real threat following catastrophic weather events.

“The Drudge Report is helping to stir up a panic that looters are going to come and take your stuff — yes, you, you right there, sitting in your home, feeling frustrated an vulnerable — you are about to get your stuff stolen by looters,” Reeve wrote, attempting to quell fears spurred on by scores of Twitter users taking to the social network with threats to go looting after the storm hit. In the article, she implies that Infowars and Drudge were encouraging unwarranted fears of home invasions. In reality, Infowars never suggested that looters would attack peoples’ homes; we did, however, state that “every single extreme weather event in recent years in the United States has been followed by looting.”

Also, despite numerous reports of looting and violence that followed the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the Daily Beast’s Katz expressed that fears of social meltdown were a “myth” and that we should look to Haiti as an example of how to deal with the fallout.

Governors up and down the east coast aren’t taking the threat of looters lightly. Several states have dispatched National Guard troops and “anti-looting patrols” to deter thieves.

Although we’ve not yet seen the extent of Sandy’s devastation, it’s curious what, if any, response naysayers will have to the looter reports, of which there are sure to be more.

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