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Cops investigate vandalism at bus shelters

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Police were investigating an apparent spate of vandalism to bus shelters in Maspeth and Middle Village that occurred sometime last week.

Large glass panes were smashed out of bus shelters at three stops on 69th Street at Garfield, Grand and 53rd avenues in Maspeth and at one stop on Metropolitan Ave. at 80th Street in Middle Village.

Regular bus commuters, treading lightly amid the shards of glass strewn about the bus stops Monday morning, said the panes were broken sometime after Dec. 24 when most of them last rode the bus.

A police spokesman said the pattern of the damaged bus shelters suggested a case of vandalism and the suspect or suspects responsible for breaking the glass could face charges of criminal mischief.

Anyone with information about the incidents was asked to contact police at 1-800-577-TIPS.

“We encourage anyone to call and rat them out,” a police department spokesman said.

Officials at Triboro Coach company, which operates the buses on the 69th Street route, said it sounded like a clear-cut case a vandalism.

“Today is the first we’ve heard of it, so it must have happened over the weekend,” said Jamie Van Bramer, Triboro Coach spokesman, on Monday. “Each day we repair about 20 of the 3,100 bus shelters throughout the five boroughs. Most times they’re broken by accidents, like a stone kicked up from a car tire or something, but when there are this many all together, it’s probably vandalism.”

Repair crews were being dispatched Monday to replace the glass, Van Bramer said.

Van Bramer said Triboro encourages riders to contact police when they suspect vandalism at bus shelters.

“On the shelters is a sticker that says to call 311 to report damage to the shelters,” Van Bramer said. “People can call the police when they suspect vandalism.”

Bus drivers and commuters on 69th Street said vandalism at the shelters in the neighborhood is nothing new to them.

“I last rode this bus the day before Christmas break and it wasn’t broken then, but we see this all the time,” said Helene Schwartz, who was waiting for a bus at the corner of 69th Street and Garfield Avenue Monday morning. “I saw others (with broken-out glass) this morning, too — it’s awful that someone does something like that.”

Bus drivers Chris Thermos and Andrew Schneider, who operate buses on the Q18 route which goes through Maspeth and Astoria, said they noticed several of the damaged shelters along their route Monday.

“I’ve seen at least four and there could be more,” Schneider said. “It happens. Last month there were two, but you don’t usually see this many at the same time. Looks like it’s probably vandalism.”

“Sometimes they go on a rampage,” Thermos said.

City Councilman Dennis Gallagher (R-Middle Village) said he had seen the same type of vandalism before and it had prompted him to examine the possibility of replacing the glass at bus stops with a vandal-proof material.

“This is not uncommon, unfortunat­ely,” Gallagher said. “We see the same thing, and it seems to be in spurts.”

The shelters are owned by Viacom Outdoor Inc., and are maintained by Shelters Express company.

Reach reporter Tom Nicholson by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 157.

Updated 10:25 am, October 12, 2011
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