Early Friday evening Christine Hauser of the New York Times broke a story about how cell phone pictures led to an arrest of a 18 year old male. The 18 year old was photographed on an Astoria-Ditmars Blvd train engaging in “scratchitti”. Scratchitti is a form of graffiti that’s made by etching and carving your tag on an object instead of using tools like marker ink or spray paint. Here is Christine’s report:
It was a crime in progress. A young man in a hooded sweatshirt and jeans sat on a gleaming subway seat, his face focused on the train window as he scratched something into the glass.
On Monday at 1 p.m. on a northbound N train, near the subway station at 30th Avenue in Astoria, Queens, an alert rider took out a cellphone and snapped a photograph of the young man, along with another image of him sitting slightly forward in his seat, the police said.
The commuter turned over the photos to the Crime Stoppers hot line, a relatively new innovation in reporting crime.
The images were scrutinized by the Police Department’s vandalism task force, which managed to identify the young man as Andrew Morello, 18, who officials said was already known to investigators as a “tagger.” He had been arrested in March on a graffiti charge after spray-painting the word “Shelly” on a parked commercial vehicle in Queens, according to court records.
On Friday, officers went to his house at 48-04 20th Avenue in East Elmhurst, and arrested him. (He struggled while he was being handcuffed, and one of the arresting officers was treated at a hospital for a wrist injury, the police said.)
Mr. Morello faces charges of criminal mischief, making graffiti, resisting arrest and possession of graffiti instruments, the police said.
Click here for the complete report.
The responses to this article has been a mix bag. Some are complaining about the “photographer” having no life & reporting the crime. Others took the opportunity to say this was the right thing to do as it costs the MTA money. This line of thinking led to a debate over the MTA’s finances. One last comment I observed was one that compared this story to the one of a 13 year old who died after being run over by a Long Island Rail Road train while he was spray painting with friends.
As far as I am concerned, I am glad the person took the time to report this crime. Forget the cost to the MTA in terms of having the scratchitti removed. I want to focus on why people feel the need to destroy the train cars millions depend on to get from point A to point B? Are people that bored in life that they have to do something destructive to property? I don’t think sending this person to jail will accomplish much but he should be responsible to pay for any damage he caused. I also feel he should have to do some sort of community service in which he would have to clean MTA property whether it be buses, train cars, stations, etc….
xoxo Transit Blogger