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CB5 targets issue of loitering teens

Some residents say they are too frightened to step...

By Dustin Brown

A group of Ridgewood residents spoke out at a Community Board 5 meeting last week to seek assistance in quelling a gang of loitering youths who have allegedly damaged property and terrorized neighbors.

Some residents say they are too frightened to step out of their homes.

Thomas Murawski, president of the Liberty Park Homeowners Association, came to the meeting to alert community leaders to the problem, which residents said has been growing steadily worse over the past year.

“We’ve always had the teenagers out there — it was all just talking and laughing at the stoops,” said one resident of 64th Place. “Now it’s another step further.”

Residents said a group of youths between 18 and 24 years old regularly gathers at the corner of 64th Place and 78th Avenue from about 10 p.m. until as late as 2 a.m. or 3 a.m. The youths have been seen drinking alcohol, urinating on private property, and vandalizing cars as well as both using and dealing drugs, they said.

“There’s evidence all over the floor when we go to work in the morning,” said one resident. “We see bottles of beers, all sorts of drugs, crack vials.”

Murawski brought the matter to the attention of 104th Precinct Capt. Thomas Cusanelli in a letter dated March 9, in which he claimed the police have failed to adequately address the problem.

“A group of residents from 64th Place recently went down to the 104th Precinct to file a complaint and received an unsatisfactory response from the Police Department,” he wrote.

Residents were planning to attend a meeting Wednesday evening with Cusanelli, which the Juniper Park Civic Association sponsors on a monthly basis, to bring their concerns directly to his attention.

“We’ve been complaining, and we’ve asked the 104 to please give us more coverage,” one neighbor said.

“According to a couple of neighbors, between 25 and 30 kids are hanging out. They call the police, the police come for a minute, don’t do anything, and drive away,” Murawski said. “It’s like, what was the use of calling the police?”

Capt. Anthony Renna gave only limited comment on the precinct’s response to the issue.

“I don’t have any exact numbers for you at the moment. It’s something that we’re aware of and that we’re enforcing,” he told the Times-Ledger. “The condition is being addressed.”

Although many of the neighbors spoke up publicly at the community board meeting, they all chose to remain anonymous for this story because they feared the youths might retaliate against their children and family members.

“They’re scaring the homeowners away, and we’re paying the mortgages,” a resident said. “It’s getting really out of control, and it’s unfortunate because it’s a really good neighborhood.”

Reach reporter Dustin Brown by e-mail at or call 229-0300, Ext. 154.

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