Photo courtesy of Adrian Jakubowski
Damaged cars are lined up along the side of a Flushing Avenue service road.

Updated on March 26 at 9:15 a.m.

Maspeth residents and a local elected official are fed up with damaged vehicles continually being parked on local streets and sidewalks — even after police have stepped in — and one body shop is receiving the blame.

Disabled cars often line the streets around the American Autobody & Recovery shop on Flushing Avenue, taking up parking spots for days at a time and leaving debris around them. Last year, the 104th Precinct cracked down on the body shop when it towed 11 vehicles, issued 15 summonses and put an immobilization boot on one of American’s tow trucks.

According to a Maspeth resident who lives right across the street from the the problem area, it didn’t take long for more cars to appear.

That towing operation did not help at all,” the resident said. “There was one day of no cars and then it went back to the same. It just seems to get worse and worse to the point that it’s spreading to other blocks and now they’re using the side streets.”

The Maspeth resident has also filed more than 60 complaints to 311, and on March 15, he counted 25 vehicles that appeared to be part of the problem.

But it’s not the first time that the 104th Precinct has targeted the body shop only to see the problem return. In 2015, it was reported that police towed 15 vehicles in May, and another 22 vehicles in August, leading to the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) revoking the body shop’s towing license. The DCA even got involved back in 2011 when it reportedly suspended the shop from the city’s Direct Accident Response Program (DARP).

Councilman Robert Holden said he has been fighting against illegal towing practices for more than two decades dating back to his days as the president of the Juniper Park Civic Association (JPCA). In a statement to QNS on March 22, Holden said that he is trying to use his newfound resources as a councilman to put a stop to the problem.

“American Auto Body has become a source of consistent irritation for local residents, and their operations need to be shut down,” Holden said. “When I took office, I directed my staff to look into the company’s business practices and we found recurring red flags, including licensing issues and property address issues. My office then reached out to the Department of Consumer Affairs to see if anything could be done.”

A representative from the DCA told Holden that the agency would perform an inspection at the body shop at share the results, he said. Holden added that he has not heard back from DCA in over a month, and he is constantly fielding calls from constituents about the derelict cars.

A police source said they are aware of a February complaint from a politician and an investigation is ongoing.

“When an inconsiderate and malicious business owner preys on unsuspecting consumers and the community, I find this unacceptable, and I will continue to fight American Auto Body until it complies with the laws,” Holden said.

QNS is awaiting more information from a DCA spokesperson who is looking into the subject.

The owner of American Autobody & Recovery was not available for comment.

The Maspeth resident who spoke with QNS later asked for their name to be removed from this article.


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