Despite Gunshots and Gas Fights, Crime Down 27% During Storm Week

gasDaniel Maurer A driver steps out of his vehicle to survey the gas line at BP on Sunday.

Crime during the week of superstorm Sandy was down 27 percent compared to the same period last year, the police said. Still, the week was marred by disputes in gas lines, an uptick in burglaries, and – once again – reports of gunshots in Alphabet City.

With drivers queuing up for gas in the middle of traffic, tempers were quick to flare. Sunday at the BP on Second Avenue and East First Street, the wait for gas was 35 minutes, as 65 cars lined up for more than five blocks. Motorists stopped at red lights honked and yelled at those attempting to cut in front of them from side streets. According to the police, 41 of last week’s 123 storm-related arrests were related to disputes at gas lines.

In addition, there was a six percent uptick in burglaries. 379 burglaries – 54 of them storm-related – occurred from Oct. 29 to Nov. 4. Some of the break-ins targeted evacuated homes, the police said.

Overall last week, there were 86 percent fewer murders, 41 percent fewer rapes, 21 percent fewer robberies and 47 percent fewer grand larcenies. Auto thefts were also down 20 percent.

But Thursday night in the East Village, gunshots were again heard near Campos Plaza. Aida Salgado, a resident of the Lower East Side Apartments, told The Local she heard shots outside of her apartment on East Ninth Street, between Avenues B and C.

A resident of nearby Campos Plaza, who did not want to be named, said he also heard the gunfire. “Young people were yelling and [there were] shots,” he said. “There were detectives and undercover cops around for a long time. But after that, everything was quiet.”

Friday, Deputy Inspector John Cappelmann, the commanding officer of the Ninth Precinct, said there was “very little crime” in the East Village as squad cars patrolled the darkened streets. Still, the week was not without its challenges: on Avenue C and Eighth Street, Police Service Area 4’s station house was flooded, as showed in video submitted to The Local. Many of the precinct’s officers – 15 to 20 percent of whom hail from Staten Island, Deputy Inspector Cappelmann estimated – suffered “catastrophic losses” at home.

Meanwhile, there were bright spots such as the Connecticut resident, Eric Wisberg, who brought a generator down to the station house on East Fifth Street. On Friday, seven or eight neighbors were using it to charge their cell phones. “He probably helped 200 people,” Deputy Inspector Cappelmann said of the good Samaritan.

The police also cited retired officers who volunteered for relief duty via the department’s Retiree Mobilization Plan. Michael J. Dyer drove from his home in Omaha, where he practices law, to Queens, where he helped distribute hundreds of blankets, household goods, and hygiene products that he had purchased on his own dime.

Suzanne Rozdeba contributed reporting.