NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Violent, thieving mobs have been making headlines across the country for the past few years, and now they have hit New York City.
And Maurice Dubois reported in this CBS 2 investigation, the teen mobs have left neighborhoods worried as businesses take matters into their own hands.
Judson Bennett, 78, recently ran into a violent group of teens – often described with the once-benign term “flash mob” – as he made his daily trip to buy a newspaper at his favorite news team.
“I’m approaching the newsstand, and then suddenly there is a tremendous force behind me,” Bennett said.
Bennett ended up with a broken arm.
“I was taken completely by surprise,” he said.
In New York and across the country, the mobs of kids – 20, 30, 40 or more — appear out of nowhere and suddenly charge a newsstand or convenience store.
They ransack, steal and wreak havoc with no consideration for customers, such as Bennett, who get in their way.
“They assemble, they do whatever it is that they’re going to do, and then they disassemble in a matter of minutes,” said Jon Shane, assistant professor of criminal justice at John Jay College. “By the time somebody recognizes what is happening or is injured, if the police are able to respond, it’s slow.”
Raj Shmara owns a newsstand at Broadway at 55th Street. Shmara said his newsstand has been targeted seven different times by mobs of teens. During an attack just last week, the kids threw a bottle at an employee who had to be hospitalized.
“They cost me a lot,” he said.
The increase in attacks and their violent nature has many people concerned.
“I think it needs to be addressed,” said Gale Spitalnik. “It’s awful.”
“It’s disturbing to have that kind of activity happening in New York City,” said Greg Lukasiewicz of Nutley, N.J.
“It’s against the law,” said Edvin Brown of Brooklyn. “They should address the problem [like] they address every other issue.”
The man who manages the newsstand where Bennett was injured said it has been attacked four times in just the past few weeks.
“It’s hard to earn a living, and then they come here and destroy everything, and then they leave,” he said. “It’s sad.”
As quickly as they arrive, the newsstand victims said, the teens are gone — along with thousands of dollars in goods and damages.
Teens have destroyed the newsstand on 57th Street between Eighth and Ninth avenues so many times that the manager has been forced to shut down completely in the afternoon so he doesn’t lose any more money.
“All our displays are broken,” he said.
When CBS 2 contacted the NYPD about the issue, the Department declined to comment.
Meanwhile, many newsstands have turned to putting in their own surveillance to try and deter the attacks — because they feel left on their own.
“I try to scare them, ‘Look, I’m going to take your photo,’ and some kids they run,” a newsstand owner said.
Shop owners in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn said similar problems there stopped when plainclothes police officers were assigned to the area.
What do you think needs to be done to stop the teenage mobs? Leave your comments below…