No power = no burglar alarms

Cities endured break-ins, gas fights during hurricane aftermath

When the power’s down, so are burglar alarms. Several crimes occurred in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, including two men who explained to police they had allegedly broken into a grocery store because they were hungry.
Some information wasn’t available when police officials were contacted by the Reporter last week. Here is a roundup of a few incidents.

Desperate for food

A Hoboken police spokesman said on Friday that in the days after the hurricane, police caught a 23-year-old man and a 25-year-old man allegedly attempting to burglarize a food store on Madison Street. The police report said that the two men told police they were forced to do so because they had no power at home, no food stores were open, and they were hungry.
Police also said that Radio Shack on Washington Street was burglarized, with a 24-inch TV and four to five electronic tablets stolen.
In addition, a convenience store on central Washington Street was burglarized. Cigarettes and scratch-off lottery tickets were taken, police said.

Pharmacy looted

Willow Pharmacy, 900 Willow Ave. in Hoboken, was burglarized during Hurricane Sandy, the owner confirmed last week. Looters broke in through the front window and made off with what owner Frank Lavinio described as “expensive drugs.”
Lavinio explained that the thief did not get a hold of any “controls” (like Percocet) or any other drugs with street value.
“Those drugs are locked up in a safe,” said Lavinio. “But there is a grey market so they might be selling to other types of pharmacies. What they targeted were the expensive drugs, so whoever did this knew what they were doing.”
The store is open for business. “We’re doin’ okay,” Lavinio said Thursday.
The investigation is ongoing. Lavinio said the store is working to replenish what was stolen.

Carjacking at gas station?

A Hoboken woman posted in an internet newsgroup for local moms about an attempted carjacking earlier this week near the Holland Tunnel. She then followed up with the Reporter on Friday and said that to her knowledge, the perpetrator had not been captured.
“Be careful if you go to the gas stations by the Holland Tunnel,” she wrote. “I went there yesterday and almost got car jacked! The guy (in a ski mask) actually went into my car and trying to steal my car…WHILE THE GAS WAS STILL PUMPING! Then he tried to take my purse. I fought him off so I didn’t lose anything and the baby wasn’t with me. We had PA police, Jersey City police and Hoboken police on the scene afterwards. They were saying carjacking has been crazy…they had about four to five reports in the past two weeks.”
She added, “So please….when you’re getting gas, please make sure all the doors are locked and only open a small sliver of your window to transact with the attendant. If you must get out of your car to pump your gas…..take the keys and lock the car and don’t leave your purses or valuables in sight. Oh and … all the pumps had cars but NO ONE came to help while I was struggling with the carjacker….and the attendant told the police that he saw nothing even though he was right next to me when I saw the guy in my car!”
When contacted, the Jersey City police said that they were not immediately able to check and confirm the details of that or any other storm-related crimes, due to power outages and other issues.
In a followup, the woman told the Reporter, “They did say that in the last two weeks, there were at least four carjacks reported from the gas stations by the tunnels and they’re taking all cars, luxury cars to sell overseas and economy cars for parts (especially a lot of cars need new parts now).”

Gas fights

Officials in several towns said all was quiet regarding crime, except for a few fights over gas.
According to Mayor Felix Roque, he heard about a few heated arguments in his town, resulting from the gas shortage. He said no arrests were made in relation to those incidents, and there were no other major crimes to his knowledge.
“A good police presence deterred any crimes, I think,” he said. “I had counted on that there would be, so the police were out in force, but nothing like that occurred.”
According to Jeff Welz, Weehawken’s director of public safety and emergency management coordinator, no looting has taken place in Weehawken. Welz emphatically added that not one crime had been committed in the week since the storm.
Welz added that throughout the week, the Weehawken Police Department nearly tripled the number of on-duty officers and personnel.
In Union City, Chief of Police Brian Barrett expressed similar sentiments, citing a general dip in all areas of crime, not only robberies and burglaries.
“I don’t think we have that type of breakdown in Union City,” Barrett said. “Our people have a strong connection to the town and its elected officials, so I’m not surprised that no one did anything like that.”
Secaucus experienced flooding but got power restored quickly. Mayor Michael Gonnelli said he didn’t know of any storm-related crimes.
“Not in paradise,” he said.

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