“Disheartening. Frustrating.” are the words used by Jim Canell to describe the rash of graffiti that has been going around the Village of Mineola and other surrounding areas in recent weeks and which also struck his business, BedQuarters, with several tags scrawled across the rear of his buildings on Jericho Turnpike as well as his delivery trucks.
“You just want to come in, do your thing and go home, basically and to deal with other things, it’s disheartening; whether it’s people taking your plants in the front... I’ve had people steal my plants out of the planters, stupid things like that... it’s more frustrating than anything else.”
The incidents happened the night of July 30-31 and graffiti was also found on the rear of Auto Barn, Raini Spa, as well as another building on the Garden City Park side of Herricks Road and Essef Importers, which had already repainted after two previous acts of vandalism.
“I’ve dealt with little incidents of kids hanging out because the school’s across the street, I’ve had that,” Canell said, able to count the number of incidents he has seen in his 25 years at the location as less than a handful. “But I’ve never had (this). This seems to be a little one step above; nasty.”
The business is owned by Canell and his brother, both of whom grew up in New Hyde Park but now live in Mineola operating the business for 25 years, with a second location in Manhasset.
The graffiti was first discovered by several BedQuarters drivers who normally come in at 8 a.m. and saw the vandalism and sent photos of the scene to Canell on his phone. Canell then contacted the Third Precinct, which sent a car over to investigate.
“I had already seen them talking about Hinck Way,” Canell said referring to TV broadcasts of the Mineola Village Board meetings in July, “so I knew it was the same punks doing it. Now I know it’s not just localized; it’s in a lot of towns.”
Third Precinct officials have stated that increases in graffiti have been reported in Williston Park, Albertson, Westbury and Carle Place, but do not appear to be gang-related. A task force has also reportedly been formed to investigate the graffiti incidents.
“(The Third Precinct) said basically ‘when you are going to repaint, tell us, because their MO seems to be to see that it’s been repainted and do it again, a lot of the businesses they do that’,” Canell said, noting that officers said they would conduct a patrol during that time. “Nothing has happened since. It may not be top priority, but it is a priority.””
Canell also met with Mineola Mayor Scott Strauss a few days after the incident, talking for about 15 minutes about what the village can offer businesses. Canell had originally planned on attending the Aug. 7 meeting of the village board but was at a funeral.
“I was very satisfied,” Canell said of the meeting with Strauss. “He was basically telling me he has the auxiliary patrols, he’s going to use them, he’s going to contact them working on concert with the Third Precinct. I think they are doing everything they can. I think if and when they do get caught they’ll let us know. I think it will end.”
Still, Canell is out about $400-$500 in repainting costs, as are other businesses that are forced to repaint following such a vandalism attack. Typically a business has between a week to 10 days to respond to a graffiti summons and to rectify the problem before having fines levied. Canell said that it took a few days to repaint his property, finding colors to match the brick and also to get workmen to the site.
“I use the back for pickups so if customers are coming in to buy a bed and then want to take it with them, they pull back, I load it up and I had this one lady just going, looking and I felt really terrible to have her looking at that the back parking lot the way it looked,” he said, noting how the repaving of Jericho Turnpike this summer “killed our business” and how he now has to lay out additional funds.
In the meantime he has been keeping a flood light on and has talked with Essef Importers, which has been in the location about 15 years, about installing larger motion detectors and surveillance cameras in the shared yard.
“He’s looking into pricing,” Canell said of his neighbor, who first approached Canell about making upgrades and utilizing a light stanton pole that had not been repaired previously. “Hopefully it is a deterrent. Now with maybe lights coming on it will deter anyone from doing anything.”
Canell does not think that the recent consolidation of police precincts has had anything to do with the uptick in incidents.
“I think it’s just random and I think it’s just timing,” he said. “I don’t think it has anything to do with less manpower and they can rule the streets or whatever. I just think that it’s some random acts that I think they will eventually get caught. I don’t think it has anything to do with less manpower or anything.”