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Jul 27, 2010 5:12 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Rash of vandalism hits Eastport

Jul 27, 2010 5:12 PM

Jeanie Marks said she pulled up to her interior decorating shop along Montauk Highway in Eastport one morning last week and started to cry.

A turquoise planter holding a small tree was dumped onto a white flower box under her window, its mulch strewn on the ground. The weight of the tree pulled the box away from the front of the store, leaving a noticeable gap. A handful of broken beer and soda bottles littered the sidewalk and street in glass.

“It’s just so wrong,” Ms. Marks said. “It almost makes me want to move.”

Her shop, Seahorse Interiors, wasn’t the only target. Several stores along the strip were victim to a rash of vandalism the weekend of July 17-18, resulting in toppled fences, upheaved flower boxes and disheartened shop owners.

“We’re trying so hard to clean up Eastport,” said KC Kollections owner Linda Stucchio, referring to recent efforts to revitalize the Main Street business district. “Then when this happens, it just kind of breaks your heart.”

Shortly after 1 a.m. on Sunday, July 18, four teenage boys appearing to be between the ages of 14 and 18 years old hit the downtown area armed with a baseball bat, according to footage captured by a surveillance camera in one of the stores. They knocked over two fences and several flower boxes along the sidewalk, prowling the street until about 3 a.m., Ms. Stucchio said after talking to local residents and business owners.

Suffolk County Police were notified of the vandalism later that morning. Investigating officers deemed that there was no monetary damage to the properties and do not have any suspects, according to a police spokesperson. They have not yet viewed the security camera footage.

Some Eastport business owners are determined to deal with—and, hopefully, discourage—the vandalism themselves.

“It looks like we all need security cameras,” said Ms. Stucchio, whose antiques shop has been open for 16 years. She said she expects to install them in the near future. “It’s going to cost a lot of money, but that’s the next thing on a bunch of our lists,” she said.

In 2009, the Chamber of Commerce of The Moriches received a $17,000 Brookhaven Town grant to install security cameras along Main Street in Center Moriches following a graffiti spree in which more than 20 buildings were vandalized. That followed in the footsteps of a $30,000 surveillance initiative in Mastic and Shirley, which business owners there said has since drastically reduced the amount of graffiti and helped assist police in arrests.

Ms. Marks, the vice president of the Eastport Chamber of Commerce, said talks of surveillance cameras are not yet on the table. “We shouldn’t have to install security cameras,” she said. “We pay taxes. That’s what the cops should be here for.”

George Dalecki, owner of Seatuck Stained Glass, said he’s noticed flare-ups like the one two weekends ago every two to three years. “In my Sunday clothes, I was cleaning up the mess in front of my store,” he said. “But my hanging marigolds were safe. They are really wedged in there. I guess the kids gave up because it would have actually taken effort.”

This is the first incident Krystle Harb has witnessed since she opened A Grape Pear Wine Boutique about a year ago with her husband.

“I don’t think these kids think twice about what they’re doing,” she said. “It’s crazy, and very obvious that they’re young.”

Ms. Stucchio said store owners have made an effort to clean up Eastport over the last several years, even though incidents like these make it feel like an uphill battle.

“But we’re climbing up the ladder,” she said. “We don’t want to fall back down.”

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It's a shame -- the hamlet has been looking better than it has in decades. Eastport may need to establish a citizen's patrol or neighborhood watch group.
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Jul 29, 10 12:06 PM
They might want To think About a Small Police Sub Station There....Just a Thought...
By 1640sWhaler (74), Sag Harbor/Easthampton on Jul 29, 10 5:33 PM
You probably wouldn't know this from your side of the Canal, but the bulk of Eastport is in Brookhaven Town, and is patrolled by Suffolk County Police -- and they don't have "sub-stations," they have Precincts. And there's no way they're putting another Precinct East of the William Floyd Parkway.

They probably wouldn't even put a sector car to cover just Eastport.
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Jul 31, 10 8:38 AM
Suffolk County Police Dept has a small substation in Center Moriches. Next to the big CVS off Main Street.
By lifesaver (118), speonk on Aug 2, 10 6:06 PM
1 member liked this comment
That's an old Brookhaven Town "sub-station." I don't believe there's much of an actual "police presence" there.
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Aug 3, 10 9:47 AM
It seems an interesting response from the Suffolk County Police, no monetary damage? It is a small town, put up posters of the kids from the video. Even if they aren't turned in, their parents might see it and do some disciplining of there own. Obviously, the kids were on foot and they probably live close by.
By Bandguy (23), Sag Harbor on Jul 29, 10 10:58 PM
something is rotten in denmark
By countyworkerstruggling (7), remsenburg on Dec 9, 10 9:47 AM