4 November 2012, 12:43

New York City crime down by a third in wake of superstorm

New York City crime down by a third in wake of superstorm

New York City crime dropped by a third in the days after superstorm Sandy, but there was a slight increase in burglaries after at least 15 people were charged with looting empty businesses and homes blacked out since the disaster.

Between Monday - when the storm hit, killing 41 people in the city - and Friday, murder dropped by 86 percent, rape fell 44 percent, robbery decreased by 30 percent, assault by 31 percent, larceny by 48 percent and car thefts by 24 percent. Burglaries rose by 3 percent.

During that period, overall crime declined in New York City by 32 percent from the same week the year before.

"Overall, there were 1,061 crimes over the last five days compared to 1,541 last year," New York police spokesman Paul Browne said in a statement. "Police continued to be deployed to storm-affected areas by the thousands on extended tours of duty to provide security and recovery assistance."

The drop in crime comes as New York police have been stretched to respond to one of the worst natural disasters to hit the region, sparking dangerous rescue efforts and concerns about crime in storm-darkened neighborhoods.

Browne said that earlier on Saturday, a man wearing a Red Cross jacket was arrested for burglary on Staten Island after police saw him checking the front doors of unoccupied houses.

Police presence at gas stations was increased on Saturday, said Browne, after at least 10 people were arrested on Friday for various disputes over line jumping. Drivers have been lining up for hours and tempers have been fraying as gas became scarce.

Five other people were arrested for disorderly conduct at gas stations on Saturday, he said.

In Queens, more than 15 people have been charged with looting and a man was charged with threatening another driver with a gun after trying to cut in on a line of cars waiting for gas, District Attorney Richard Brown said earlier this week.

Manhattan powered up

Power has been restored to all of Manhattan, but it is still lights out for 900,000 homes in other parts of New York City.

According to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo workers have also managed to restore 80 percent of the city’s subway severely damaged by Hurricane Sandy, which flooded seven of the 23 lines, effectively knocking out the city’s underground rail system for a whole four days.

Governor Cuomo earlier said that 30 million liters of gasoline had been delivered to the city and an additional 100 million were on the way in.

By email or in a tent: a scramble to get Sandy victims to vote

New Jersey is allowing voters displaced by superstorm Sandy to vote by email, while some voters in New York could be casting their ballots in tents in an 11th-hour scramble to ensure voting in Tuesday's elections.

With power still out for more than a million homes and businesses and scores of polling stations rendered useless by a record surge of seawater in New York and New Jersey, authorities face unprecedented challenges in pulling off Election Day.

In New Jersey, authorities took the uncommon step of declaring that any voter displaced from their home by Sandy would be designated an overseas voter, allowing them to submit an absentee vote by fax or email.

According to the Federal Voting Assistance Program, about a dozen U.S. states allow absentee ballots - mainly from overseas voters - to be returned by email, while several more have the ability to allow this in certain emergency situations.

Voice of Russia, Reuters, TASS

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