New York's richest hire 24x7 armed guards in fear of 'apocalypse' as criminals are released from prison
New York elites are already fearing a "zombie apocalypse" as the coronavirus crisis worsens and they are hiring armed guards and stationing former cops outside their luxury apartments in Manhattan and the Hamptons so they are well prepared for a doomsday scenario where criminals come breaking down their front doors.
Speaking to Daily Mail, two leading private investigative agencies in Manhattan — Sage Intelligence and Beau Dietl & Associates — revealed how their businesses were booming due to rich New Yorkers fearing the outbreak will spiral out of control.
According to the report, their clients are citing reports of thousands of police officers getting sick, families losing their livelihoods, stores running out of essential supplies, and hundreds of potentially violent prisoners being released from jail due to the pandemic.
"These people are fearful of anarchy, that crime is going to spike and that people will get desperate and steal to feed their families," Mike Ciravolo, a retired NYPD detective who serves as president of Dietl, told the newspaper. "They fear they will become targets if this thing really ramps up. These are very affluent people, with very, very expensive units."
According to Ciravolo, he's already deployed round-the-clock protection at a coveted housing society in Soho as well as two luxury apartment buildings on the Upper East Side.
Meanwhile, Herman Weisberg of Sage told the outlet how he started receiving calls about two weeks ago.
Weisberg was first contacted by high-profile clients who wanted security guards to accompany them to their banks so they could safely withdraw stockpiles of cash in case the banks were attacked.
In another case, a Soho business executive called Weisberg in a panic saying he was looking to buy a gun for himself but all the stores he contacted were sold out.
"That moved up his decision to hire me," Weisberg said.
Another family in Manhattan called Weisberg from their summer home in the Hamptons.
"They got on the phone and explained they have an alarm system that they almost never turned on," Weisberg said. "Now they're turning it on, but the husband was still stressed, saying, 'What good is an alarm if nobody's around to respond?'"
Although the wife was reluctant, the husband was hell-bent on hiring 24x7 security despite the East Hampton police department being fully operational with only one officer testing positive for the coronavirus.
Now the house is watched over by two armed guards working 12-hour shifts. Meanwhile, retired police officers sit in unmarked cars wearing plainclothes so they don't draw too much attention.
"They're letting us use their vacant pool house for bathroom breaks," Weisberg noted.
One energy tycoon from East Hampton told Weisberg he had flown overseas with his family to wait out the crisis in his palatial estate at an undisclosed location.
"If I was a bad guy picking a house to rob, I'd pick mine," the client told him.
"He was particularly afraid after reading that the government was considering releasing violent inmates because of the coronavirus," Weisberg said. "That certainly wasn't making him feel more comfortable."
Weisberg said he understands why his clients are nervous.
"They're fearful because they live in these jaw-dropping houses, with 14 to 20 bedrooms, art collections, lots of stuff," Weisberg explained. "While it's great to have a gigantic home, they are creepy places to stay in a time like this. People with that kind of money, they're willing to pay a lot to sleep at night."
Another client asked Weisberg to send guards to protect his wife and kids at their lavish Upper East Side townhouse while he was away for business.
"He normally doesn't have security, but this is different," Weisberg said. "He compared this to the zombie apocalypse, and he predicted the police manpower would be cut in half due to the virus. He felt badly leaving his wife and children alone. I think zombie apocalypse is a stretch, but I went along with it."
Overall, crime is down ever since the city declared a state of emergency on March 12, with a 25 percent drop in murders and a 10 percent decrease in robberies. However, there has been a nearly 17 percent increase in burglaries as compared to last year.
A major fear among New York's wealthiest is that police will not be able to handle all the emergency calls, considering more than 1,400 cops have tested positive for the virus and nearly 6,500 NYPD officers called in sick on April 2, which makes 18 percent of the force, per the outlet.
"I tell clients that there's really no reason to be fearful at this point," Ciravolo said. "But there are certain clients that are adamant that they want to get ahead of the curve and then want to be ready in the event that there is anarchy."