Looters were able to target high-end stores in New York due to law enforcement intelligence failure, NYPD official says

NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - 2020/06/01: Protesters set fire on garbage receptacle and looters broke into Macys department store. Protests turn into looting and destructions in Manhattan before first curfew imposed. (Photo by Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - 2020/06/01: Protesters set fire on garbage receptacle and looters broke into Macys department store. Protests turn into looting and destructions in Manhattan before first curfew imposed. (Photo by Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images) (© 2020 Pacific Press)

(CNN) -- Looters in New York City were able to tear through some of the most expensive, high-end stores in the city because of an intelligence failure, according to a high-ranking police official.

The coordinated effort of looters to target the Manhattan neighborhood of SoHo without the police department's knowledge points to something the NYPD missed, said John Miller, the NYPD's chief of counterterrorism and intelligence.

"On the looting, that's an intelligence failure," Miller said at a briefing on Saturday. "If a couple of hundred people knew to be in a certain place at a certain time for criminal activity and we didn't detect that, that's on me. We've gone back looking for 'where was the Facebook page, where was the chatter in the places where we monitor gang's social media' and we still haven't seen it."

In midtown Manhattan, there was widespread looting along the neighborhood's eastern portion, including the high-end shopping district of Fifth Avenue and Madison Avenue close to Trump Tower.

The looting extended further south into Herald Square, where looters were even able to penetrate the iconic Macy's building, with officers dragging looters out of the store late into the night.

Fires were set, including some police vehicles, and buildings were vandalized with graffiti tags or simply had their windows smashed.

'Complete chaos'

In an exclusive interview with CNN, NYPD Chief of Patrol Fausto Pichardo said that more than 50 commercial establishments in SoHo were burglarized. One car seized by the NYPD had more than $17,000 worth of products inside, said Pichardo, who oversees the majority of the department's uniformed officers.