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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.

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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