Buffalo forms anti-looting unit to handle ‘opportunists’ who took advantage of blizzard chaos

The Buffalo Police Department has formed an anti-looting detail that has snagged eight suspects so far after they trashed stores and stole goods and money from various retail outlets in the midst of a once-in-a-century blizzard that has blasted New York’s second-largest city.

(Video Credit: Fox News)

The storm buried the city in at least 5 feet of snow over Christmas weekend and thieves took full advantage of the chaos that ensued as people died in their homes, on the streets, and in their cars.

“This isn’t people stealing food and medicine and diapers. They are destroying stores. They are stealing televisions, couches, whatever else they can get their hands on. They’re opportunists,” Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia railed at a press conference on Tuesday.

“All you’re doing is destroying the resource you have when you need to go to the store again and buy food or whatever else that you need. You’re destroying your community. It will not be tolerated,” he declared.

Plainclothes detectives are taking part in the new anti-looting unit according to Gramaglia as police look for suspects. They are working with the Erie County District Attorney to prosecute those caught stealing and destroying property. The National Guard has been called in to enforce a driving ban as well due to the blizzard and they will be looking for looters too.

(Video Credit: Fox News)

Gramaglia stated that police are aware of looting incidents and are working to get a full count of how many there have been.

“We have made a few arrests we have intervened in some of those, we’ve assisted with at least one location that I am aware of in getting a store boarded up so our officers are out there,” he stated at a press conference.

That store is believed to be Rick’s Sports Apparel near Allen Street and Elmwood Avenue according to 2 On Your Side. The store had its windows broken, got looted, and was boarded up Monday night.

(Video Credit: WGRZ-TV)

The Commissioner added that officers are starting to return to their patrol duties which include monitoring looting and theft.

“It’s heartbreaking. When this is all over the community will have nowhere to go to get the things they need,” Robert Smallwood told 2 On Your Side. He is an employee at Camellia Meats.

He also said that the Family Dollar at Genesee Street and Zenner Street was in the middle of being looted while talking to the media outlet. Several videos show people with bags of items fleeing the store.

Inside the Family Dollar, there were items tossed off of shelves, and boxes were thrown everywhere. It was thoroughly trashed.

Patrick Cichocki, who is one of the owners of Camellia Meats told 2 On Your Side that the Broadway Market was also broken into. The cash register was stolen, but nothing was in it.

“They’re breaking into the Rent To Own, they’re taking TV sets,” Cichocki stated while blaming the justice system for the looting during the blizzard.

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown scathingly commented that “these aren’t even people in distress.”

“People who are out looting when people are losing their lives in this harsh winter storm is just absolutely reprehensible,” Brown asserted. “I don’t know how these people can even live with themselves, how they can look at themselves in the mirror. They are the lowest of the low.

(Video Credit: WGRZ-TV)

So far, 31 have been found dead in Buffalo as of Tuesday and that number is expected to climb, according to Fox News. More people may be found in vehicles that were covered by snow, not to mention those who wandered out into the blizzard and froze to death.

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