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NBC 4 New York
Lynda Baquero reports on a looting spree that started when a group of people purported to be from FEMA, but were not.
Faced with the prospect of days without power and swaths of the city plunged into darkness at night, police brought in banks of lights and boosted patrols to reassure victims of a monster storm that they won't be victims of crime.
Some prominent galleries in Chelsea hired private security and apartment building superintendents suddenly became guards. In Coney Island, where more than a dozen people were arrested for looting overnight, police officers stood on corners or cruised in cars to guard a strip of vandalized stores and a damaged bank, to the relief of shaken residents.
"We're feeling OK, but at first we felt worried," 12-year-old Oleg Kharitmov said Tuesday as he walked his dog with his parents by the bank. "I'm pretty happy that the cops are here."
The precautions came on a second powerless night after the city was battered by Sandy on Monday night and residents grappled with how long it would take to get back to normal — or at least New York's version of normal.
As night fell, nerves frayed.
Yvique Bastien waited outside an apartment complex with her two sons, her daughter, 4-month old grandchild and a pushcart full of supplies, hoping to get a ride to a relative's home from a member of her church. With the power out, it wasn't safe to stay, she said.
"We don't know what can happen to us," she said.
In Chelsea, residents strolled down darkening streets with no lights, while traffic police tried to manage major intersections.
Roberto Pineta stood in front of the apartment building where he works as superintendent, saying he took it upon himself to keep residents safe by sitting in a chair inside the front entrance, day and night, sleeping only a few hours at a time. Candles lit the entrance to a nearby apartment building where another superintendent and his staff were putting in extra hours while power is out.
"It's a little disconcerting to be in the dark, but I feel safe — these guys are great," Stacey Vuolo said as she headed to her brother-in-law's nearby apartment, which at least had cold water for a shower.
On West 24th Street, generators lit up the Andrea Rosen gallery, which had hired private security.
Down the street, artist Arlene Rush said she didn't require extra security in her third-floor studio, because it required several keys to access from the street.
"I don't really need the cops," added neighbor Guy Kloppenburg, a teacher. "We knock on each other's door to make sure everyone is OK."
Bloomberg promised "a very heavy police presence" in the darkened neighborhoods, which include much of Manhattan south of the Empire State Building, from the East River to the Hudson River. Even outside the blackout areas, police deployed vans and patrol cars with their roof lights on, along with officers on the streets in a robust show of force.