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Five teens nabbed as graffiti vandals

Officials of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation (DOPR) and the Bayside Little League are taking a hard line with five Bayside teens, who were allegedly nabbed “red handed” doing graffiti in Crocheron Park.
The three boys, aged 14- to 15-years-old and two girls, 13- and 14-years-of-age were apprehended about 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 11, by a police officer from the 111th Precinct.
According to a police source, the youths, all from the Bayside area, were allegedly caught in the act of defacing two large storage containers next to a baseball field at 35th Avenue and 216th Street.
The youths were in possession of spray paint and markers, and “one of the boys claimed that an ‘older friend’ bought the paint for them,” the source said.
It is illegal to sell or provide spray paint to minors in New York City, and cops are said to be investigating exactly how the juveniles unlawfully obtained the spray cans.
The defaced containers belong to the Bayside Little League and hold materials and equipment they use to keep up the nearby ball fields at their own expense. As part of their agreement with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation (DOPR) the group has to keep the containers graffiti-free.
As reported in The Queens Courier last December, the ongoing expense of painting over vandals’ handiwork has taxed the Little League’s resources.
“Even after your article, we’ve had to have the containers painted numerous times,” said Bob Reid, a Little League official. “We’ve had to hire people and buy paint and painting equipment, and it’s cost hundreds more [than the $3,000 reported in December],” he said.
Thanks to a special operation involving DOPR agents and police which had the area under surveillance recently, officials are hoping that the arrests will bring an end to the problem.
Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski ascribed the arrests to “really good teamwork between the 111th Precinct and Parks and Recreation staff.”
“Our staff is working really hard, and it hurts to see this [vandalism],” she said, adding, “These arrests should serve as a warning that you shouldn’t deface public property.”
DOPR Commissioner Andrew Benepe told The Queens Courier that the department would “absolutely” cooperate with the investigation and agreed with Lewandowski’s declaration that, “We’ll certainly testify, if it comes to that,” during the process.
Initially, arrested juveniles are under the jurisdiction of the Probation Department, and are referred to as “respondents” rather than “defendants.” The city is the “petitioner” rather than the prosecutor or complainant.
The Department must consider the best interest of the child as well as the interests of society in deciding what action to take. This may simply include counseling rather than action in Family Court.
If a juvenile is referred to Family Court, the New York City Corporation Counsel rather than the District Attorney handles the case.
As of press time, the arrested youths’ cases had not been referred to the Corporation Counsel.
“We’re demanding that these vandals and their parents be held fully accountable,” Reid said. “They cost us thousands of dollars - we worked hard to raise that money for the kids who want to play ball,” he said.

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