Despite Police Presence, Residents Fight To Protect What Hurricane Didn't Take

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Staten Island residents already suffering from the ravages of Hurricane Sandy say they are now seeing their neighborhoods infiltrated by squatters and looters.

As CBS 2’s Dick Brennan reported Wednesday, when darkness sets in on Wavecrest Street in New Dorp, people say squatters make their move – crashing empty homes wrecked by the hurricane.

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“They just go in there late at night when nobody is supposed to be looking, and they just flop in the house and sleep in there, wherever,” resident Steven Sumner said.

Residents said the squatters are most attracted to homes that have electricity.

But Sumner said it is not just the squatters, but the looters, too. They have tried to break into his Sandy-ravaged home next to the trailer where he has been living temporarily.

But he said he has managed to fight back, with many different weapons, including a cane, a baseball bat, two rakes, and a stick.

When asked if the weapons work, Sumner said they usually do not.

“They usually run away from the big rake, but the baseball bat, they look at you and it’s like, ‘What are you doing? Are you kidding?’” he said.

This is despite what residents say is a large police presence.

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“You see a lot of police presence all around,” said Bob Clement of Oakwood. “The police presence is phenomenal.”

But some people in the area said while they appreciate the police presence to some degree, they had to take matters into their own hands.

“We got together, and we said, OK, we’re going to keep an eye out,” said George Jorgensen of New Dorp.

Jorgensen, a Vietnam veteran, said he has seen a lot in his time, but has no patience for people ruining his home.

“If we catch anybody, what we basically do is warn them, and then we tell the cops,” Jorgensen said.

In the meantime, Sumner said he’s not taking any chances.

“I even chained up the back of my camper, so they don’t hook it up and take that away, too,” he said.

The Sandy survivors have been left on their own to defend what the storm didn’t take.

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