While some Penn State students took advantage of afternoon classes being canceled due to Hurricane Sandy by purchasing 40 ounce bottles of Hurricane malt liquor, there were no news reports of any increased criminal activity. Regrettably, news reports have stated that some people in South Brooklyn were involved in looting and fights. Stressful situations sometimes bring out the worst in people.
On a brighter note, tough times also bring out the best in people, exemplified by the unsung heroes such as medical personnel, public works employees, firefighters, as well as at least two unnamed Good Samaritans who drove people to safety in a taxi and a dump truck.
Pennsylvania Increases Punishment for Theft During Natural Disaster
I am not aware of any reports of looting in Pennsylvania, but, if such incidents occurred, the thieves and burglars would be facing increased penalties. In Pennsylvania, if a person is commits an offense of retail theft, theft by unlawful taking, receiving stolen property, or unauthorized use of a motor vehicle during a natural disaster, the offense is graded a second-degree felony. The increased severity of the grading of the theft charge will also result in an increase to penalties. Clearly, Pennsylvania law seeks to punish more severely those that strike during times of dister. At a time when people are worried about basic needs, they should not also have to be concerned about the loss of their few remaining material items.
State College and Surrounding Area Storms
Sitting in my house Monday evening while the lights flickered, it was hard to know how the storm would ultimately affect the area. In the end, Centre County as a whole, including State College and Penn State University, was very fortunate to have endured the storm relatively unscathed. Local news reports showed area residents as well as Penn State students preparing for the storm by stocking up on essentials, like water, batteries, candles, non-perishable food items, and Hurricane malt liquor. I'm glad to report that I don't know of anyone in the immediate area that needed these supplies. I must say that if we had been less lucky in the weather lottery as some of our neighbors were, I believe we would have come together as a community and supported one another.