‘Lowest of the low’: 9 alleged looters arrested in Buffalo


BUFFALO, N.Y. (NewsNation) — Authorities in Buffalo have arrested at least nine people for allegedly looting several stores following a deadly winter storm that buried the city in 50 inches of snow over the Christmas weekend.

Buffalo Police Department Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia announced Tuesday that the department launched an Anti-Looting Detail Unit to crack down on theft.

After being ransacked during the blizzard, many businesses, from Family Dollar to Boost Mobile, are being boarded up. One Buffalo restaurant owner of 22 years said on social media that he spent Christmas watching security cameras showing his business getting looted.

Videos posted on social media have shown that people are taking more than just essential items. Many show the aftermath of stores getting ransacked, with boxes all over the place and shelves empty.

“This isn’t people stealing food and medicine and diapers,” Gramaglia said. “They are destroying stores, they’re stealing televisions, couches, whatever they can get their hands on. They’re opportunists, they’re taking advantage. And all you’re doing is destroying the resource you have.”

He added that the Erie County district attorney is aware of the incidents and will jointly prosecute offenders.

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown called the looters “the lowest of the low,” in a press conference on Monday.

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

Many stores have been closed since Friday due to the “once in a generation” storm that has brought Western New York to a standstill. Wegmans and Tops Friendly Markets in the area have reopened, but many other stores remain closed.

Officials say the arctic weather is to blame for the deaths of at least 30 people in Erie and Niagara counties and they expect that number to rise. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said Wednesday morning on Twitter that the Medical Examiner’s Office has confirmed 34 storm-related deaths. This surpasses the most commonly reported death toll from the Blizzard of ’77, which many consider to have been Buffalo’s worst storm of all time.

Some people died after being found outside, while others had no heat or were in a stranded vehicle.

Right now, New York State and Military Police are stationed at entrances to Buffalo and at major intersections because some drivers were flouting a ban on driving within the city. As of Wednesday afternoon, the driving ban for the city remains in effect, as there are over 450 pieces of snow-fighting equipment on city streets, the police said. However, people can drive in other areas of Erie County.

NewsNation affiliate WIVB contributed to this report.

Anyone with information on looting suspects is asked to call the confidential TIPCALL line at 716-847-2255.

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