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Burglars Strike Vacated Apartments Next To Scene Of Deadly Harlem Fire

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The Harlem fire which took the life of a veteran FDNY firefighter last week has also forced residents in neighboring buildings to vacate while demolition work begins.

And it appears thieves have seized on the opportunity to prey on empty apartments.

Police said Monday that an 83-year-old man reported his apartment in the 771 St. Nicholas Ave. building was burglarized, with $16,500 worth of jewelry, cash and fur clothing taken. A 66-year-old woman living in the same building reported she had $9,800 worth of jewelry and cash taken from her apartment.

Officers have been on patrol around the clock since the fire. Police say only city inspectors and contractors have had access to the building.

The victims live next to the building where the crew of Norton's film "Motherless Brooklyn" film had been shooting on the ground floor Thursday night when people noticed smoke coming from the lower levels.

During the fire, firefighter Michael Davidson somehow became separated from his team and died early Friday morning while battling the blaze.

It is still unclear what caused the fire. The building is being demolished so investigators can get a closer look at the basement, where the flames are believed to have started.

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