Lower East Side sneaker stores targeted by looters in blackout

The owner of a Chelsea candle shop was held up by a gunman on the night the lights went out. But stores selling sneakers, some on the Lower East Side, bore the brunt of criminal mischief connected with the blackout last week, police said. Starbucks coffee shops were the targets of vandals in the Village and the East Village.

Nevertheless, the 850 arrests citywide during the blackout, which began in Manhattan at 4 p.m. Thurs. and ended between 14 and 29 hours later, were about 100 fewer than usual for a midweek August evening. Of those arrested, more than 200 were charged with crimes connected to the blackout.

The First Precinct, however, was unusually quiet during the blackout, according to Capt. Michael Hurley, commanding officer of the precinct.

“There was a car-jacking at W. Broadway and Broome St. around 2:30 a.m. on Friday morning and an arrest was made a short time later,” said Hurley, “but that can’t really be attributed to the blackout. There was no looting or anything like that as far as we can tell now,” he added. Crime in the precinct last week was down 45 percent for the seven major crime categories compared to the same week last year, Hurley said.

In Chelsea, Jay Gurewitsch, owner of Arcadia, at 261 W. 19th St. between Seventh and Eighth Aves., stayed open late selling candles at the usual price as darkness began to fall shortly before 8:30 p.m.

“There were customers in the store when this guy came in twice and walked out again,” Gurewitsch said. “When he walked in a third time, there were no customers and I knew I was in trouble. He pulled a gun, put it to my stomach and asked for all the money. He took all the cash and the credit card receipts and marched me toward the back of the store where it was dark. But a couple of customers came in then and I yelled, ‘Get out. Get out of the store.’ He turned around and ran out before police got here,” Gurewitsch said.

The thief, described as Hispanic, 5’7” and 150 pounds, fled with about $900.

Looters broke in and wrecked Alife Rivington Club, a sneaker shop on Rivington St., between Clinton and Suffolk Sts. around 11 p.m. and beat up one of the owners, an employee and their girlfriends who had responded to a call about the break-in, according to reports.

At the Foot Locker on Delancey St., police arrested four suspects charged with throwing a brick through the window.

At 298 Elizabeth St. at Houston St., looters broke into Classic Kicks at about 1:15 a.m. Friday and made off with clothing. At Prohibit, a sneakers shop at 269 Elizabeth St. at Prince St., looters broke the front door, but fled when neighbors went after them.

Starbucks on First Ave. between E. Sixth and E. Seventh Sts. had its glass front windows smashed on Thursday night. Another Starbucks on E. Eighth St. and University Pl. suffered a similar fate. A McDonald’s on First Ave. had its sidewalk café windows smashed.

Robert Weber, director of policy for Asian Americans for Equality, said things were pretty much under control in Chinatown, where most stores were closed. He said as far as they know there were no reports of looting in Chinatown. Weber said AAFE would likely reach out to the businesses that were looted on the Lower East Side and offer them low-income loans through AAFE’s Renaissance Economic Development Corporation.