Most of the hundreds of looters who took advantage of the city's record-breaking snowfall to pillage area stores here for three days were unemployed and had prior arrest records.
This rough profile of the looters who were caught by police was drawn from police records and pretrial agency interviews in preparation for the hundreds of bail hearings that still are taking place in the city's district courts.
A police spokesman said 379 people were arrested on various looting-related charges such as burglary, breaking and entering and receiving stolen goods. About 450 more poeple were arrested for violations of the city's twoday 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew, which was imposed Feb. 19.
About one-fourth of the looters arrested were juveniles, some younger than 13. Most lived close to the area where they were arrested, police said. Sixty-two of the 101 juveniles arrested had no previous arrest records.
But of the 278 adults arrested for looting, 60 percent were unemployed and 68 percent had been arrested previously, although not necessarily convicted of the prior charges, police added.
Meanwhile, more than a week later, the various state and city agencies are trying to extricate themselves from the avalanche of paperwork created by the processing procedures for the more than 800 arrests. The merchants of the 374 looted and vandalized businesses are still sweeping up, repairing and either closing up shop or attempting to restock shelves.
"It will be four to six weeks before I can get new display cases for the jewelry and metal security grates for the front," said Arnold Swain, owner of the 96-year-old Braun's Jewelry Store located in a recently revitalized downtown business area. called Oldtown Mall.
The city of Baltimore has won national and international recognition for urban renewal programs that turned blighted warehouses and tarnished residential neighborhoods into renewed urban centers.
But one of the areas hit hardest hit by the looters was one of those areas revitalized only three years ago.
Oldtown Mall is a two-block red brick pedestrian mall containing 85 stores. Mayor William Donald Schaefer said Oldtown was the first such shopping mall built in a black innercity neighborhood anywhere in modern years.
The merchants contacted here this week said they still cannot estimate the damages they suffered from looters while police were immobilized by 23 inches of snow that drifted up to six feet in places.
Until they have those tallies, they can only hope their insurance will cover the losses.
Schaefer has attempted to unite local, state and federal agencies to assist the businesses in obtaining low interest loans for repairs and answer questions about their insurance coverage.The federal Small Business Administration has declared Baltimore a disaster area, enabling merchants to apply for-interest federal loans.
The city's police force operated on double shifts around the clock for three days trying to answer more than 1,600 telephone calls for help last week.
A spokesman for the Baltimore Welfare Rights Organization said the looting accurred "in the really depressed areas of the city" where unemployment levels for blacks reach as high as 51 percent.
"I don't condone it but I do understand it, coming from the conditions those people live in," said Bob Cheeks. "The slogan here is 'Baltimore is Best.' But best for whom? People see all the new big buildings going up and it adds to the frustrations of people who can't get food."
"I don't understand the black leaders saying looters were after food," said Herbert Milstein, a liquor store owner who just cleaned up enough to reopen.
"The black man across the street from me had a shoe repair shop for 40 years," Milstein said. "I don't know what you can expect to get in a shoe repair shop, but it was torn apart. He's not going to reopen."