Teen Arraigned In Playground Vandalism
A Bronx teenager, who according to police was visiting the area, was arraigned last Thursday on charges he caused massive destruction to a playground under construction at Beach 30 Street and Lewmay Road earlier this month.
Allan Swafford, 17, is accused of using a bulldozer located at the site to drive through a playground under construction causing $100,000 in damage, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown’s office.
“The defendant is accused of causing extensive damage to a brand new playground in Far Rockaway that was under construction and set to open this summer bringing some welcome joy into the lives of the area’s many disadvantaged children,” said Brown in a press release. “Instead of having a fun place to spend some time this summer, the neighborhood children will be left to wonder why someone would commit such a senseless crime.”
The criminal complaint against Swafford says he is charged with breaking into trailers on the Land-Tek construction site sometime between 5 p.m. on March 19 and 6:40 a.m. on March 20. He is said to have removed several sets of keys, a nail gun, drill batteries and charges, and a computer bag from file cabinets in the trailers. The complaint charges that he then proceeded to use the bulldozer to drive through the playground and destroy nine sections of decorative fencing and 40 feet of curbing, damage the sidewalk and decorative pilings, and rip two plastic slides from the playground. It is also alleged that the defendant damaged four platforms including roofing, stairs, posts and railings; destroyed a suspended walking bridge; damaged a small slide and tore down an additional 50 feet of fencing.
Swafford is also suspected of inscribing “B055 XD AKA ALLAN” in wet cement on the site. Police received information from a source who heard loud noises and observed the defendant operating a bulldozer on the construction site on the evening of March 19. The accused was arrested by 101 Precinct detectives on March 29.
On Saturday, Councilman James Sanders Jr. held a press conference to express gratitude to the police for their quick action. He spoke to The Wave about the community’s involvement in Swafford’s apprehension.
“The community was so revolted at this action that residents gave the name to the proper authorities and a person was arrested,” said Sanders. He added that, “People say that we in the Rockaways don’t participate with law enforcement. It’s just not true. This is an example of the community saying there’s some crimes so heinous [and] that some things are beyond the pale that they cannot be tolerated.”
Phil Sparacio, the parks department deputy chief for operations, thanked “the police department, the community and Sanders for their swift action.” He also said the process to replace the destroyed equipment has begun.
“The equipment manufacturer and the contractor both visited the site to examine the damage and will soon order replacement equipment,” said Sparacio. “We fully expect the playground to be restored and ready to open by the end of the summer.”
Donovan Richards, Sanders’ chief of staff and a candidate for City Council, is a former resident of the area. He said the area is one of those in Rockaway that needs the new park.
“Knowing that our children didn’t have much to do in this area before, and being so excited and ecstatic that something is coming now, [when I found out about the vandalism] it was one of the saddest days of my ten years here,” said Richards.
Sanders and Richards called on residents to do as those who gave information leading to Swafford’s arrest did – take a stand and “do not allow people to destroy it [their community].”
Swafford is charged with third-degree burglary, second degree criminal mischief and first-degree unauthorized use of a vehicle. If convicted, he faces up to seven years in prison. The defendant was ordered held on $150,000 bail. His next court date was scheduled for April 3.