BUFFALO, N.Y. (NewsNation) — Authorities in Buffalo have arrested at least eight people for allegedly looting several stories in the city in the wake of 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.
According to the anti-looting detail, four arrests were made by plainclothes detectives between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. Tuesday, and four more were announced later that day.
No additional details have yet been released about the eight arrests.
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.
Anyone with information on looting suspects is asked to call the confidential TIPCALL line at 716-847-2255.
Officials say the arctic weather is to blame for the deaths of at least 32 people and they expect that number to rise. 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.
NewsNation affiliate WIVB contributed to this report.