Looters Target Stores In Queens After Sandy

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There were reports of looting in the Rockaways area of Queens after superstorm Sandy.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Not all of the chaos left in Sandy's wake can be blamed on the storm itself. In pockets around the New York region, looters took advantage of power outages to steal what they could.

NPR's Joel Rose has this story from a shopping center in the Rockaway section of Queens.

JOEL ROSE, BYLINE: For Destiny's Hair and Nail Salon in Rockaway Beach, fate was not kind. First, there was the storm surge from Sandy that flooded the neighborhood, then came the looters.

AFALAKA CLEMENTS: They opened the back door. They took all the products, all the merchandise and everything. All the dryers, everything was taken away.

ROSE: Big equipment?

CLEMENTS: Big equipment, they take the television. Nearly everything was taken away.

ROSE: Afalaka Clements(ph) started this business herself 10 years ago in a strip mall a few blocks from the beach. Hers isn't the only business in the Rockaways that was looted in the hours after the storm.

ALAN CAMAI: They broke into CVS. They broke into Radio Shack. They broke into the sneaker siore over there - they just ripped the gates off.

ROSE: Alan Camai(ph) owns a pest control store in the Rockaways. When the local police station flooded, Camai says, the thieves saw an opportunity.

CAMAI: The day the police left, when they evacuated the station, I guess it was free-for-all when they were gone.

ROSE: The police are definitely back now in force. Fifteen people in Queens were charged with burglary and other offenses, along with nine in Coney Island, Brooklyn. That doesn't matter much to Mosataf Jabane(ph), who owns a Dollar Store in the Rockaways. Jabane says he lost $100,000 worth of merchandise in the flood.

MOSATAF JABANE: (Unintelligible) no more, they just come and take it. It's garbage.

ROSE: The looting seems to have abated. Still, some businesses aren't taking any chances. Richard Mafucci(ph) was standing outside the door of TD Bank branch in Howard Beach, Queens today. Mafucci says he works for a private security company, though he won't say which one. Mafucci says his job is to make sure nobody goes inside unless they're supposed to.

RICHARD MAFUCCI: Yeah, you secure premise. I mean, like anybody else who has had some damages from the storm, you don't want to leave the doors open.

ROSE: Mafucci may have to stand there for a while. It could be days or even longer before the power comes back in parts of the city.

Joel Rose, NPR News, New York.

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