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Looters hit Coney Island after Sandy

NEED TO KNOW
  • Law enforcement is busy helping in wake of Sandy
  • Now, they may have thefts to deal with
There have been reports of looting on Coney Island.

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Communities dealing with the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy may need to prepare for isolated incidents of looting.

HLN affiliate WABC reports that New York police arrested 13 people on Tuesday, and most of them are charged with crimes related to looting. Most of the arrests happened in Brooklyn and Coney Island, where people have been evacuated because of flooding and fires.

NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne tells CNN that on Tuesday police arrested nine suspects in Coney Island, and four others were arrested in Far Rockaway.

Read more: Police play major role in Sandy's aftermath

WABC also reports that dozens of businesses have been looted on Coney Island including a Rite Aid, a Citibank branch and a Rent-a-Center.

Former criminal investigator John Lucich says there are some things business owners can do to reduce their chances of being looted.

“Businesses need to lock down their facilities best as possible. But when there’s no power or alarm systems, unless they stay there themselves, the chances of them being looted is going to increase,” Lucich says. “When people have some sort of presence at their store, people are less likely to be looted, and when they make it known or make themselves visible by putting a sign outside, they actually reduce their chances.”

Lucich has more than 15 years of law enforcement experience and says he is optimistic that looting in storm-hit areas will be minimal.

“Between the National Guard, the State Police and the best police department in the world, the New York City Police Department, I think they are going to be able to handle this and minimize the impact that it will have on businesses and bring to justice the people who engage in these types of activities,” Lucich says.

HLN/In Session law enforcement analyst Mike Brooks agrees, “Law enforcement plans for looting, so hopefully it won’t be a problem.”

If you do see looting or a crime in progress, notify the authorities, even though that can be difficult in situations with massive storm damage. For example, New York is experiencing a 911 overload. Law enforcement is encouraging people to call 311 for non-emergencies like downed trees.

Brooks also said if you witness looting, you should leave the area for your own safety.

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