Retail and luxury stores in Manhattan's popular shopping destinations Madison and Fifth Avenues, including Macy's flagship store, were vandalised as looters broke into the stores and stole merchandise worth thousands of dollars as violent protests hit New York over the custodial death of African-American George Floyd.
A curfew was imposed in New York City from 11 pm on Monday to 5 am on Tuesday and authorities doubled police presence as violence and looting spiked across the city.
The New York City Police Department doubled its police presence, bringing nearly 8,000 police to help prevent violence and property damage and the additional officers will be deployed to areas where violence and property damage occurred during the previous night's protests - specifically in lower Manhattan and Downtown Brooklyn.
Yet, a curfew and increased police presence could not stop looters to break into retail stores in Manhattan that have been shuttered for over two months due to the shutdown in place because of COVID-19.
Videos and photos posted on social media showed groups of people tearing off the plywood nailed into store fronts to prevent looting and smashing windows with hands and hammers during the night as the law enforcement was stretched to handle protests and demonstrations across the city.
A report in The New York Times said looters stormed into Macy's flagship store in Herald Square, a retail space of over 2.5 million square feet and one of the largest retail stores in the world, and stole merchandise before they were chased down by the police.
Looters also broke stores of other high-end brands such as Nike and Coach store, stealing expensive goods and vandalised a Barnes & Noble bookstore while destroying other smaller storefronts along the way.
Beginning Monday afternoon and growing wilder as night fell, small bands of young people dressed mostly in black pillaged chain stores, upscale boutiques and kitschy trinket stores in Midtown Manhattan, as the police at first struggled in vain to impose order, the NYT report said.
Video showed that looters began gathering in front of one of the blocked entryways of the Macy's store.
The NYT report said one man repeatedly kicked the plywood as cheers erupted from other looters.
When the door was broken, people raced inside, followed later by police officers dashing through the aisles, trying to catch them.
The Police Department confirmed on Tuesday morning that many looters had made it inside Macy's and that enforcement action had been taken.
It seemed for some that the desire to steal was less alluring than the thrill of destroying and, with few police officers cracking down, relishing in a powerful feeling of impunity, the report said.