Cops accuse teen of etching tag on boro bus shelters

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Police arrested a Brooklyn teenager accused of using acid to graffiti 21 bus shelters across Queens, the borough’s district attorney said.

Alexander Thompson, 19, allegedly caused more than $5,100 in damages when he etched his pseudonyms “gear” and “g7” onto the surfaces of the glass shelters, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.

“Graffiti is a symptom of crime and negatively affects the quality of life of all citizens through decreased property values, increased taxes and a financial burden on affected businesses and homes,” he said. “We will not allow such individuals to mar the beauty of our city or threaten to return us to the days when our transit system and our highways and buildings were covered with graffiti.”

Thompson was arraigned last Thursday and faced a 42-count indictment, including charges for criminal mischief and graffiti, the DA said. If convicted, he could face up to four years in prison, according to the DA.

The news holds special relevance for residents of Ridgewood, Glendale and Maspeth, which are within the confines of the 104th Precinct.

Last year, the precinct had the second-highest number of graffiti arrests in the five boroughs with 174, police said. And according to Alison Potokin, the graffiti officer at the precinct, the 104th had already made 74 arrests as of last month.

State Assemblyman Mike Miller (D-Woodhaven) has also done his part to paint over graffiti in central Queens. Last month he convinced the Long Island Rail Road to paint over tags on several overpasses in the neighborhood.

“I’m looking in many other areas to cover and paint over as much graffiti as we can,” Miller said.

Many of the residents who vandalize property with graffiti work as part of a crew, according to Miller.

“That’s how they identify themselves. They have a name and a crew and try to get their name out there,” he said. “Years ago when I was a child, we didn’t think of damaging other people’s property.”

And the damage done to Queens has been costly.

Last month, police from the 104th Precinct arrested two suspected graffiti vandals — Matthew Young, 23, of 71-07 65th Place, and Thomas Rank, 19, of 79-33 Myrtle Ave. — who allegedly cost residents tens of thousands of dollars, according to one officer.

Even while the 104th Precinct leads the city in arrests, residents can do their part as well by reporting graffiti.

Last year, the department received just 19 calls to 911 and 11 to 311 for graffiti cases.

The NYPD hosts graffiti cleanups throughout the neighborhoods, many local officials have graffiti hot lines and some even offer rewards leading to the arrest of graffiti vandals.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4566.

Updated 11:03 am, October 12, 2011
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