The warehouses burned for days, beginning January 9th and have been looted since then.
“It was balmy weather for Sunday afternoon looting, and hardly anybody went away empty-handed yesterday from a row of burned-out warehouses on West 30th Street near 12th Avenue. Families on outings stopped by to join a constant stream of children and youths carrying away toys, cheap jewelry, plastic cameras, baskets, canned sardines, bottled shampoo and huge rolls of fake-fur fabric. With not much more than 300 shopping days till Christmas, there was a brisk demand for plastic snoopy dogs, swords, locomotives, horns, popguns and football helmets.” “I got a lot of toys before,” said one youth happily. “Now my mother sent me back for some fur.” The warehouses were among six that burned for several days, beginning Jan 9th, and have not been boarded up. Mark Schmidt, the lone watchman, who was trying to keep a finger in the dike, said he could only “try to be nice to the people and let them take just what’s outside the building.” Police Officer Steven Berenhaus said he had made three arrests yesterday and one three weeks ago of a man who had taken 30 cartons of toys away in a van. He said the police cars had too many sectors to cover” to stay around long. “The owner doesn’t seem to care-I guess he’s just as soon have the stuff stolen,” said Sgt Richard Ecklord. There were no police barricades to block the street.
excerpt from Laurie Johnston NYT 2/14/77