As a “one-in-a-generation” blizzard that killed dozens in upstate New York raged, looters, ransacked and vandalized numerous area businesses over the Christmas holiday weekend.
As law enforcement response times and protocols were affected by low temperatures and blinding snow, New York State Police were responding to alerts from citizens on social media about widespread smash-and-grab looting throughout the region.
Almost all retail establishments, including pharmacies and grocery stores, have been closed since Friday due to the horrific conditions.
Buffalo citizens celebrated Christmas by looting and ransacking stores 🎄🎉 https://t.co/w5lMwOfiq6
— Not the Bee (@Not_the_Bee) December 26, 2022
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown (D) said on Monday that the looters hitting the unsupervised businesses are the “lowest of the low.” He said, “I don’t know how these people can even live with themselves, how they can look at themselves in the mirror.”
Brown also noted that the media reports showing looters indicate they are not taking “foods and medicines, they’re just looting items that they want.”
One area resident told local reporters that the thefts are “not about a need,” while another added, “Exactly – they took TV sets.”
New York State Police Superintendent Steven A. Nigrelli told local media that officers had been dispatched to respond to only a pair of confirmed looting incidents. He said that the retail looting reports 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, Buffalo City Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said there had been a “few” looting arrests in the city over the holiday weekend. He said that the city has been able to respond to the storm by “transitioning our patrol officers to get back to their patrol efforts while we have our search and rescue recovery teams that are going out and doing the very difficult work of recovering bodies.”
Recently reelected Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) issued a statement warning against price gouging while ignoring the looting situation. She said that 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.” She added, “We’re going to be going after them.”
Travel bans have been implemented in many parts of metropolitan Buffalo so emergency service vehicles can have passable routes to respond to emergency calls. So while looters appear to be ransacking businesses without much official response, ordinary citizens are confined to their homes.