Nervous drivers wonder where to park
As if the long lingering recession were not economic burden enough, now residents of the South Bronx have a new worry: keeping their vehicles out of harm’s way while they sleep.
About 50 cars in the area have had their tires slashed at night since the new year began, costing drivers unwilling to endure the long gauntlet of red tape to get new tires paid for by their insurance companies thousands of dollars.
Although most of the incidents so far have occurred in parts of Morrisania patrolled by the NYPD’s 42nd Precinct, to prepare for the possibility that the problem will bleed over from neighboring areas, Philip Rivera, commanding officer of the 41st Precinct on Longwood Ave., addressed angry residents at Community Board 2′s office on E. 163rd St. on Jan. 11,
“What we need from the community is vigilance,” Rivera told residents and board members, adding that although the NYPD has not identified any suspects yet, “we don’t think it’s kids who are doing it.”
A few victims from neighboring communities came to warn others of the threat to their cars.
“Captain, how much force can I use if I catch someone breaking into my vehicle?” asked Anthony Ferrer of 163rd St. and Trinity Ave, who had had four tires on his Chevy Traverse slashed earlier in the week.
Ferrer said that when he went to drive to his job at the Highbridge branch post office, he found his tires had been slashed during the night. He said he paid $370 out of pocket to have the tires replaced, and now parks his car in an indoor lot that costs him $125 a month.
“I’m hurting,” Ferrer said. “That’s $125, in addition to all my other bills.”
A resident of 163rd and Trinity, Karen Smalls, said she had been aware of other incidents before the tires on her RAV4 were slashed, but checked the SUV at 2:30 a.m. and everything was fine. The next morning, however, her tires had been slashed, along with those of three other vehicles parked near hers. Smalls paid $638 out of pocket, she said, to get them replaced.
“What is going to be done?” she asked, adding that the neighboring laundromat had captured a video with grainy images of the slasher in the act around 4 a.m.
“If you could see the film, he’s comfortable” she said, “He don’t think nothing’s gonna happen.”
Rivera says he understands “not everybody can afford to park indoors.” He says he has asked local taxi bases to alert their drivers to be on the lookout for suspicious behavior around cars while they are making their rounds in Hunts Point and Longwood.
Ian Amritt, Community Board 2 chair, said “there should be “full-scale public awareness,” but added the crimes are baffling because “there is nothing to be gained from this act.”