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The Legal Legacy of Superstorm Sandy Looting

“Kick ‘em while they’re down” may have been the motto of some New Jersey residents who were involved in looting during and after Superstorm Sandy.  Reports vary from numerous isolated incidents of break-ins, trespassing, and burglary of vacant businesses and homes, to at least one report of an all-out rampage of crowds destroying restaurants.

New Jersey law recognizes various crimes against persons and property, such as trespassing, burglary, theft and robbery.  Penalties increase in severity depending on the value of the property stolen or damaged.  Currently, however, the crime’s severity does not increase if the perpetrator preys on the weak and defenseless during a declared state of emergency.

For this reason, State Senator Barbara Buono has introduced legislation that would increase the possible penalties of these crimes if committed during an official state of emergency.  The aim of increased severity of penalties is to punish those who take advantage of a those already victimized by the disaster. Disaster victims who fear that their property will be looted often stay to protect it, and in so doing, endanger their lives.  Increased penalties for looting are designed to both deter potential looters and provide peace of mind to property owners who need to focus on saving their lives rather than their possessions.

Until the legislation takes effect, looters will still face harsh legal consequences.  Burglary, for example, is a third degree offense, carrying a prison term of three to five years, and a fine of up to $15,000.

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Joseph J. Hoffman, Jr.
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For more than 40 years, Mr. Hoffman has protected the interest of his clients through diligence and hard work on legal matters, both large and small. An honors graduate of Rutgers University Law School and a native of Gloucester County, Mr. Hoffman has won numerous accolades for excellence in the practice of law.

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Kenneth A. DiMuzio, Sr.
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An attorney with over 45 years of professional experience, Mr. DiMuzio concentrates his practice on personal injury and workers’ compensation matters. A graduate of Georgetown University Law School and a native of Gloucester County, Mr. DiMuzio has been honored time and again for his professionalism and ethics in the practice of law.

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Ernest L. Alvino, Jr.
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About Ernest L. Alvino, Jr. concentrates his practice in the area of workplace injuries; construction accidents; product injuries; trucking accidents; auto injuries; medical negligence and crime victim advocacy. Ernie is a lifelong Gloucester County resident, living in Mullica Hill with his wife and children. Ernie worked his way through school as a Teamster and construction…

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Jeremiah J. Atkins
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About Mr. Atkins joined the firm of Hoffman DiMuzio in February 2010. Mr. Atkins represents individuals and corporate clients in commercial and employment litigation. Mr. Atkins’ practice covers a wide variety of employment-related matters before New Jersey State and Federal courts, with a focus on discrimination, retaliation, sexual harassment, family leave and whistleblowing claims. Mr.…

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Peter J. Bonfiglio, III
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About Mr. Bonfiglio concentrates his practice in the area of municipal court with an emphasis on defense of individuals charged with driving while intoxicated and/or refusal to submit to a breath test. Pete resides in Gloucester Township, Camden County with his wife and two of his three children.  In addition to his law practice, he…

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