Businesses throughout upstate New York have been brutalized and robbed over the weekend as extremely cold temperatures prevented local law enforcement from doing their typical patrols.
New York State police reportedly addressed allegations across social media that some businesses in the city of Buffalo had their venues damaged and merchandise stolen amid a severe snowstorm that tragically has left at least 27 dead thus far.
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown told reporters Monday that the looters seizing the opportunity to rob and damage stores left unprotected were “the lowest of the low.”
“I don’t know how these people can even live with themselves, how they can look at themselves in the mirror,” said the mayor.
Reports of problematic crime are not a new thing in New York. A video posted in October by Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) showed the then-candidate for state governor visiting a Queens gas station that he said was “getting frequently robbed” and facing numerous assaults.
Yesterday, along with @BobHoldenNYC, I visited with business owners in Glendale from the local Indian-American community who are getting hit by New York’s crime crisis. We were at a Queens gas station that’s getting frequently robbed and where their employees are being assaulted. pic.twitter.com/UgrSj8jowh
— Lee Zeldin (@leezeldin) October 27, 2022
Buffalo’s mayor suggested that the recent lootings in upstate New York were not done out of desperation for essentials such as food, saying, “from some of the pictures that we’ve seen on social media of these looters, they’re not looting foods and medicines, they’re just looting items that they want.”
“So these aren’t even people in distress — these are people who are taking advantage of a national disaster and the suffering of many in our community to take what they want.”
A couple of civilians who were interviewed by a local NBC affiliate appeared to agree with the mayor’s allegations.
“It’s not about a need,” one reportedly said. “It was a storm for one day — it’s not about a need.”
“Exactly,” said another one. “They took TV sets.”
New York State Police Superintendent Steven A. Nigrelli confirmed that authorities responded to two reports of looting incidents.
“Those are still under investigation as we speak,” Nigrelli explained. “Those are isolated incidents, and it’s not reflective of the great community of Western New York, and I’m sure that they’ll be limited to those two incidents — or at least that’s our hope.”
Meanwhile, Gov. Kathy Hochul (D-NY) put out a statement reminding the people of New York that any efforts to charge more for essentials during the disaster would be met with prosecution under the law.
“Price gouging is illegal,” Hochul said. “We have the attorney general’s office and our state is prepared to investigate any complaints of price gouging. Those who engage in this disgusting practice at a time when people in our community are hurting, when they’re trying so hard to get basic necessities, there’s a scarcity because stores have been closed since Friday, then shame on them. And they’re going to meet the law in a way they probably didn’t encounter. We’re going to be going after them.”