Cops Seek Public's Help As Graffiti Rises
Despite being one of the Queens precincts with the fewest number of complaints and arrests for graffiti vandalism last year, the 101 Precinct has recently seen a rise in the crime, it was announced at the precinct's Community Council meeting last week.
Lt. Jason Schleyer, of special ops at the precinct, announced that there has been an "uptick in graffiti in the 101" and asked for the public's help in catching those responsible.
"More often than not, it's often gang related graffiti, which is a huge resource to us," said Schleyer. "If I can catch the person doing the gang related graffiti … it's usually referencing another gang or who's going to be targeted next."
One such graffiti arrest, Schleyer said, resulted in removing a gun from the streets of Rockaway.
"We probably stopped a shooting," he said.
"Chances are if they tagged one area, then they've tagged four or five other times and we have that one record," said Schleyer, who added that the crime is a felony.
He added that most of those doing graffiti are 13,14, [and] 15 years old, and "it's [with] everyday school supplies that they might have."
In addition to tags on schoolbooks and bags, if a youngster is carrying a container of white shoe polish there is reason for concern. Acid etching is mixed with the shoe polish and being used on the new glass enclosed bus stops in Rockaway.
"The rain and weather wash away the polish and what's left is an acid etched graffiti tag," he said. "That's an automatic felony - regardless of your age. It costs a lot of money to repair that."
Schleyer asked that citizens who see tags, such as 'RAVE' - which he said is all over Far Rockaway - report it. Residents should call 311 to provide information or 911 for a crime in progress. The NYPD offers a reward of $500 for an arrest and conviction of anyone who commits graffiti vandalism.
"It's very difficult for us to catch vandals in the act. Most of the time it's in the middle of the night and they can see us coming a mile away, but if you see someone outside call 911. Most of these people are charged with felonies, and they do stick."
The Wave reported in March that, according to the NYPD CompStat unit, the 101 Precinct ranked second in least reported complaints of graffiti and least number of arrests in Queens for 2008. Schleyer said he did not believe the new problem is widespread. "It's probably three different people with the same tag hitting multiple locations," said Schleyer.
He believes once these perpetrators are caught, the incidence of graffiti should go down.
Currently, the precinct is in the process of cleaning graffiti on Mott Avenue. For graffiti victims who can't afford to clean the vandalism themselves - most graffiti vandalism costs at least $250 to remove - a waiver system allows for a Department of Sanitation truck to remove the graffiti free of charge.
"The mayor takes it [graffiti] very seriously, and we aggressively pursue violators," concluded Schleyer.