NYC Clamps Down on Crime That Exploits Emergencies

NEW YORK (AP) -

New York City lawmakers are cracking down on people who take advantage of storms or other emergencies to loot homes, damage property or defraud people.

The City Council voted Wednesday to create new criminal laws that specifically target people who commit such crimes. Mayor Michael Bloomberg is expected to sign the measures into law.

The laws apply in evacuated or substantially damaged areas during a declared state of emergency. The offense is a misdemeanor, and a conviction would be punishable by up to a year in jail, in some circumstances.

Suspects also could face burglary or other charges for their alleged conduct.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn says the proposal aims partly to let evacuation-zone residents leave their homes without worrying about burglaries.