NBC 4 New York
Staten Island residents rebuilding after Sandy have been dealing with thefts and looting since the days after the storm, but the latest rash of robberies has left some so frustrated and angry that they've talked of setting booby traps and administering vigilante justice. Andrew Siff reports.
Police have stepped up patrols in Staten Island neighborhoods struggling with increased crime in the aftermath of Sandy as some residents are setting up booby traps to trip up thieves.
Residents have been dealing with theft and looting since the days after the storm, but the latest rash of robberies has left some so frustrated and angry that they're talking about vigilante justice.
"I've got to protect my home," said Ray Weiler, whose home was flooded 7 feet up to the ceiling during Sandy.
Thieves recently broke into Weiler's home and stole his copper pipes. He estimated the copper was only worth about $40. But he doesn't want to risk another break-in.
"Once the plumbing goes back, if I can't sleep there, I've got to do something," he said.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said additional police patrols were being deployed in the neighborhoods and strongly warned residents against trying to catch the crooks on their own.
"You never know the consequences of doing something like that," he said.
Mary Ferris, a Midland Beach resident, said she's "furious" about the thefts.
"Storms I accept, accidents," she said. "This is man made."
Now Weiler is planning to set up plywood with nails sticking out underneath his windows.
"It will impale them," he said, adding that if a thief gets caught on the nailboard, it will "leave a blood trail."
"When the cops do get here, they can have the dogs follow the blood trail and catch them again," he said.
Police have made several quick arrests in the theft cases targeting Sandy homes, but the NYPD is still sending more resources to affected areas.
"We are aware of the problem, we are concerned about the problem," Kelly said Monday. "The people there have gone through so much, then to have your material that's repairing your home stolen is a terrible blow."
"We understand that. We've devoted additional resources."
Ten patrol cars are being dedicated around the borough's east shore.
Deputy Inspector Joseph Veneziano says the patrols will focus on areas where some houses still remain vacant. They include Ocean Breeze, Midland Beach and part of Oakwood.