BAY RIDGE — There have been four waves of vehicle vandalism in Bay Ridge, beginning at the end of last month, according to the 68th Precinct’s top cop.
Capt. Robert Conwell told members of the 68th Precinct Community Council and other attendees at the group’s monthly meeting, Wednesday, Nov. 20, that the spate of tire slashings and car keyings began on Oct. 26, with the most recent incidents occurring on the day of the meeting.
Cops are looking for a single perpetrator, Conwell said.
“Right now, we do believe it’s one individual working alone that is hellbent on vandalizing people’s property,” he told the group gathered at the station house, 333 65th St. “We also are flying in detectives on a daily basis to help the investigation, and help find evidence and videos. We have been working closely with elected officials, even more so since Saturday night, and we share information. I’m getting tips as they come in and we are giving any information we have to community leaders to give out to you.”
Police recently released a blurry image of a man wearing a jacket with his face covered by a hood. Cops currently believe he is the lone perp in over 50 incidents of vandalism.
Although the current image isn’t clear, Conwell told residents to observe the suspect’s attire.
“It’s not a clear picture, but we want you to notice the perpetrator’s coat,” he said. “It has some distinct markings on the shoulders, looks like different coloring from the rest of the jacket and it’s all across the back. Right now, we have extra officers coming in on a nightly basis from outside commands, with both marked and unmarked vehicles, to try to catch the individual.”
Councilmember Justin Brannan, who recently offered $5,000 for any information that leads to an arrest, hopes tips and more photos will help cops find the perpetrator.
“We’ve been working very closely with Captain Conwell and his team over the past 72 hours or so,” he said. “We are hoping word gets out there as we get clearer video, maybe some photo, someone will recognize this guy. We’ve been getting a lot of tips so far. It’s a small neighborhood. Maybe if somebody recognizes the build, the jacket, whatever it is, we can catch this guy. In the meantime , we’ve been asking residents to stay alert, turn their porch lights on, especially areas in the dark.”
Michael Tannousis, who was at the meeting on behalf of Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis, concurred.
“We want to encourage anyone that has any information based on that picture that was released to contact the police,” he said. “Obviously, this is a troubling situation and we are hopeful there will be no more victims.”
Conwell chronicled the wave of vandalism, noting that much of it has occurred during the overnight hours.
“This started roughly Oct. 26 to Oct. 27,” he said. “On that Monday, we were getting a lot of calls and taking a lot of reports of cars having their tires punctured and some of these cars were also keyed. The majority of these complaints took place on Shore Road between 83rd Street and 94th Street. A lot of these cars were in that extra parking area that we have on the west side of Shore Road from 93rd down to 94th Street. We realized we had a big problem when we had an excess of 25 complaints.”
The precinct immediately added extra patrols and assigned two cars to Shore Road to patrol all night long from 83rd Street to 94th Street. Conwell was also able to get two light towers to make the dimly lit area bright.
“Part of the problem over there is there isn’t too much light on the park side of Shore Road and we found that out the hard way,” he said, describing the next group of damaged cars. “Then this past weekend, Saturday night into Sunday night (Nov. 16), we took in excess of 30 complaints of the same thing going on at Shore Road between 72nd Street and Bay Ridge Parkway. A much tighter grouping but the same thing. Most of the cars were on the park side and not too much evidence in the form of video.”
The last two incidents happened in different areas.
“Then Sunday night into Monday night at around 4 a.m., there was some vandalism on this block. That time, we were able to get an image of a male with a larger build wearing a winter coat covering his face with a hoodie. We were able to track the male. He goes down the block, makes a left to Ridge Boulevard where he vandalizes five more cars on Ridge Boulevard between Bay Ridge Parkway and 76th Street. Then last night, we had roughly six more cars vandalized in the vicinity of Ridge Boulevard between 79th Street and 80th Street.”
State Sen. Andrew Gounardes happened to be in the area when cops were investigating the most recent spate of vandalism.
“I happened to be driving two blocks away and I stopped by,” he said. “There were 10 officers on the scene and they responded right away . We are getting more resources now. We have to be a little patient but I think we’ll get there.”
In the meantime, residents are nervous. “I’m afraid to park my car at night,” one person in the crowd said. “I try to park on the side street by a private house with a camera under a streetlamp. There are only so many of these spots available.”
When another attendee asked if one person could cause this much damage over such a short amount of time, Conwell reiterated that cops believe the perp is a lone male.
“[You can], if you go at dim light area at 3 a.m.,” he said. “Listen, we could be wrong with that, but with the evidence we have, we don’t see that.”
Another attendee praised the police for their efforts.
“I noticed the cars patrolling in the morning because I take the express bus on Shore Road,” she said. “I can see the lights; it’s amazing what they can do. A few more of those, we get the lighting problem fixed.”
“I’m trying to get as many resources as I can,” Conwell added. “ My supervisors have been very receptive. We understand it’s a major problem. It has caused tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of damage. I know what it’s like to come out and see you’re car is vandalized. It’s a terrible feeling.”