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Legislation Would Increase Penalties for Crimes Committed During Disasters

Bill A-3524 was introduced by several Assembly members.

Several members of the State's General Assembly introduced a bill Monday that would increase the penalties for a number of crimes committed during a State of Emergency.

Bill A-3524 was introduced after legislators said there were a spate of looting, robbery and unlawful trespassing incidents, among other crimes, that took place during Gov. Chris Christie's declaration of a state of emergency following Hurricane Sandy.

Bill A-3524 would see crimes such as robbery committed during a state of emergency upgraded from a second degree crime to first degree. Burglary would become a second degree crime and shoplifting, regardless of the value of the property stolen, would be upgraded to a second degree crime, among other heightened punitive measures.

The bill was introduced by Assembly Republicans Dave Russo, R-40, Scott Rumana, R-40, and Monmouth County Assembly members Mary Pat Angelini, R-11, and Declan O'Scanlon, R-13.

"This most recent series of disasters really opened our eyes to the tragedies that can occur during times of hardship,” O’Scanlon said in a release. “With nature wreaking havoc and ruining people’s lives it is incomprehensible to think that there are those who would take advantage of the folks who are suffering most. This bill is a message to all would-be thieves and burglars – a state of emergency does not mean the fruit is ripe for picking."

According to the release, a first degree crime is punishable by 10 to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $200,000; a second degree crime is punishable by 5 to 10 years in prison and a $150,000 fine; a third degree crime carries a penalty of 3 to 5 years in prison and a $15,000 fine; and a fourth degree crime is punishable by 18 months in prison and a fine up to $10,000.

Maynard Ferguson December 03, 2012 at 10:38 PM
I think they should have just shot the looters and made fish food out of them. Word of that would have spread very quickly and the looting would have all but stopped within a day!
Dave December 03, 2012 at 11:12 PM
Treat looters like the treat pirates in the Indian Ocean. Shoot to kill -- no questions asked.
fed up December 03, 2012 at 11:18 PM
I agree Maynard, looters should be shot on sight period.
Sal Sorce December 03, 2012 at 11:19 PM
Just received a letter from the NJ Pinelands Commission regarding the use of a motor vehicle storage site on a large parcel in Barnegat Township ... the parcel is located in Barnaget's PI zoning district a Pinelands Forest Area ... such a motor vehicle storage yard is not permitted land use. There was no prior approvals for the proposed use as a debris management Solid and Hazardous Waste ... call for an immediate removal in including a date by which removal must be completed ... another OC-GOP move to with the arrogance of the county and or township officials ??? Letter has been sent to Mayor Cirulli, Township Engineer John Hess Secretary Township Planning Board among other officials.
Sal Sorce December 03, 2012 at 11:22 PM
... witnesses have said there are thousands of vehicles from several locations thoughout the area including LBI, Stafford Township ... site is an old sand pit along Rt. 72 ...
Laci December 03, 2012 at 11:33 PM
Hope grand theft auto on private property and price gouging towing charges sends the owner & employees of APK Towing,located at Rt 37 and Coolidge Ave in Toms River a clear message with jail time and fines. Looking forward to see the outcome...
Ko December 03, 2012 at 11:39 PM
Lets put them on Sal's street and front yard. Geez, give the people and the town a break. Some people always want to complain but never offer a solution to help or asked if they can even physically help.
Willy Nilly December 04, 2012 at 12:11 AM
What is this, MARTIAL LAW? NO WAY! What will it be next? We already had the crazy curfews, this is AMERICA!
Show me the money December 04, 2012 at 12:31 AM
You say that until your home gets looted.
Concerned Citizen of NJ December 04, 2012 at 01:25 AM
They need to look into out of state companies doing water and Remediation for Mold that are charging only 1/3 the cost of local estiblished licensed Companys. Wait a year when they start growing mold in the crawl spaces and they have no recourse because the company was from out of state and not licensed so they have been duked...wake up NJ and stop the fraud...No Certification means thief..
Mattie December 04, 2012 at 01:42 AM
why is MY comment getting deleted? Praising the police departments for doing an awesome job (keeping looters out of storm ravaged areas) and telling people not to believe what "legislators" claim about looting because they are playing on Fears....not facts, that gets DELETED?? But people screaming about martial law and utility companies scamming them and keeping them out of their homes/neighborhoods for sinister reasons... those comments stay. Nice.
dainty December 04, 2012 at 03:30 AM
I "thought" all contractors coming from out of state had to be licensed and insured in their own state, and registered, to even get on the Island? Please lets protect our folks from the buzzards looking for fast cash and inferior jobs!
dainty December 04, 2012 at 03:32 AM
I think signs need to go up, stating, DO NOT garbage pick on the Island! My husband saw folks taking bikes out of piles and I've heard several folks say they've seen it as well. Not right to go through other folks devastated lives like that.
Xavier December 04, 2012 at 12:26 PM
Welcome to the Internet, and Patch's poor comment system.
john December 04, 2012 at 12:49 PM
there s already a electronic message sign when on LBI, no un authorized trash or metal pickup ....
shorefriend December 04, 2012 at 01:23 PM
If the trash is in the street, it's basically up for grabs, even the cops will tell you that really is not looting, it's almost the same as the day after the town wide yard sale! However I did hear that FEMA maybe recouping some of their costs by scraping metal and other salvageable materials. I personally think if someone can re-purpose something rather than add it to the land fill than more power to you! The amount of debris is overwhelming
Natty Bumppo December 04, 2012 at 01:52 PM
They should also make it a crime with higher fines and jail time when our local elected officials dissappear for no explained reason during a time of tragedy when citizens are in need and looking for real leadership. Mayor Amato ran away and needs to be held accountable and explain his actions as an elected official.
Katherine Ranuro December 04, 2012 at 02:35 PM
I'm all for this upgrading of punishment for crimes committed during a declared State of Emergency. It was harrowing to hear someone trying to get In my bedroom window while sleeping and to later be told by our Police Chief that three men were attempting to break in. Thankfully, they were chased away by canine dogs.
Frank Matusik December 04, 2012 at 02:44 PM
Ran Away????? I don't know how anyone can say that. As one of the unlucky ones that lost my home I have been out and about in the community and have seen Mayor Amato before the storm and several times after the storm especially in the hardest hit areas so to say that he "disappeared" is simply not true. I would suggest the next time there is a community meeting you should attend.
Sal Sorce December 04, 2012 at 02:49 PM
Face facts the Ocean County Republicans have enjoyed rule in many townships for many years ... granted with Obamination there is not much of a chance to rid ourselves of the power to do what ever they wish ... FOLLOW THE RULES ... OR ARE THEY FOR THE CITIZENS ONLY??? HOW THE HELL DID THE OWNER OF THE PROPERTY THAT HAS BEEN USED WITHOUT A PERMIT OR SPECIAL PERMISSION FOR A PERSONAL ENTERPRISE ... THE FINES FOR SUCH USE ARE HEAVY ... LET'S SEE IF THEY APPLY ... WONDER WHO WILL COME FORWARD AND ADMIT THE DEBACLE ... OR IS THIS GOING TO COST THE TAXPAYERS OF BARNEGAT ...
bayboat December 04, 2012 at 03:06 PM
...as opposed to FELINE dogs?.. :)
Eggs-n-Toast December 04, 2012 at 04:22 PM
I think she may have meant K-9 Dogs. (Police trained dogs).
WMS826 December 04, 2012 at 10:19 PM
This is pointless feel good legislation. These crimes will be plea bargained at time of trial anyway. We have laws in effect already, just enforce them, allow NDEA bargain since it occurred at a special time like a disaster and move on. Make the people wh commit crimes in a disaster pay full price in fines and max jail time with m early release.
Mattie December 05, 2012 at 01:56 PM
I have to agree with shorefriend- once it's on the street for pick-up by township trash trucks, it's pretty much fair game. Besides, if most neighborhoods are still restricting access to their own home owners/residents, how do you know those picking through trash on the curb aren't rethinking their own decisions about trashing stuff, or that they don't have permission from homeowners to recycle things? "Looting" doesn't happen at the curb or from trash piles... looting happens inside homes and businesses. Let's not get overly dramatic about it.
Common Sense in Silverton December 05, 2012 at 02:13 PM
While cleaning out my house over the past few weekends, I've seen some strange things. I brought my desktop computer out to the curb, and it was gone the next morning. Not sure who took it or why, you could clearly see the entire thing was submerged in salt water. I had a guy come rummaging through the piles at the curb while I was still bringing stuff out to it; he started clipping the power cords off of various things! What really takes the cake is the bird cages. Birds poop (a lot), and there were still several piles of dried feces in the bottoms of their cages that I hadn't cleaned up in a while. YOU SHOULD HAVE SEEN THE MOLD GROWING ON THE PILES. But sure enough, I was walking down the street a block or so from my house when a pickup drives by with a familiar white cage. v0v

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