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Southeast Queens Speaks: Howard Beach teens annoy neighbors, clerks

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"These kids are in groups and are disturbing store owners and using foul language inside these stores," said Deblasio. "They are also walking around in the latter part of the evening with their purses, cell phones and iPods exposed, making them easy prey for robberies." Capt. Matthew Travaglia from the 106th Precinct said that the weather this year has been very accommodating for kids to hang around. He said that most are roaming Cross Bay Boulevard in groups of eight to 10, which is producing problems. "Diners, gas stations, Burger King and grocery stores on the boulevard have been complaining about these unruly teens," Travaglia said. "They are also harassing immigrant employees at some of the establishments. Before any racial incidents occur, we want to nip it in the beginning." He said that police officers keep telling the wild teens to move and then they move in front of residential homes and then there are more complaints. This occurs mostly on weekends from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. He also added that more of a police presence would be seen on Cross Bay Boulevard enforcing the teens to stop loitering. A Howard Beach resident suggested that these teens need a place to go on weekends. She said that a few schools should open their doors and hold activities and dances in their gymnasium. These teens should have good, clean, legal fun, she added. The captain said some of the teens are guilty of criminal mischief, such as knocking over garbage cans, throwing bottles and litter on the floor, and cursing and taunting store employees. Councilman Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) said that he would like to see more youth programs in the area to help occupy these teens. He said that he is trying to get a program going at Our Lady of Grace Parish in Howard Beach, along with some other schools and churches to also open their doors for these teens. "It's an idea to think about and we need parent involvement," Addabbo said. "Youth programs are a viable answer." Travaglia said overall crime in Howard Beach has been fairly low. There have been a few muggings in Lindenwood and one home invasion over the last few months, he said. In addition, Radio Shack in Howard Beach has recently been burglarized. There has also been a man in his 60s who has been breaking into the perfume display in Eckerd's Pharmacy in Howard Beach and getting away with over a $1,000 worth of perfume. He still remains to be found. Hummers also appear to be the car of choice for thieves, according to the captain. He said that the Hummer's parts are valuable, including the tires. Ten cars have been reported stolen within the last 30 days in the Howard Beach vicinity, but auto insurance fraud is being looked into with some of these thefts. "The main issues are controlling these teens and finding them alternative places to stay," said Capt. Travaglia. "We do not want any type of racially motivated behavior to ever get out of control, so we must keep a close eye on this."

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