NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Staten Island is in the grip of a heroin crisis, with dozens of deaths this year from overdoses.
As CBS2’s Dave Carlin reported, one man who said he is fed up with all the drug dealing outside his home took an unusual step to fight it.
The front door of the home is stopping traffic on the busy block in Tompkinsville.
“He painted his door and everything,” a woman said.
“I wonder who would paint this on the door?” another said.
The house is on Bay Street across from Tompkinsville Park. And the very gutsy warning that is painted on the red door reads, “Please don’t sell heroin on the stoop.”
“On any given day, anywhere from 12 to 20 heroin dealers just on this block,” said building owner Jeff Gjeshbitraj.
Gjeshbitraj owns the mixed residential and commercial building, and he has had it. But he says he has noticed something of a change with his warning.
“It’s been slightly effective, yes,” he said.
But soon afterward, Gjeshbitraj said someone left an ominous pile of drug paraphernalia on his steps.
“There were a bunch of needles just to show, you know, ‘This is our stoop, this is our neighborhood,’” he said.
Members of law enforcement and politicians said they liked what they saw with the sign.
“I praise the people who did this, and shining a light on that heroin is being sold in front of their home,” said U.S. Rep. Dan Donovan (R-N.Y.)
Donovan just drafted legislation that would add years to the sentences of many drug traffickers.
It’s his response to a surge in overdose deaths — more than 71 so far this year on Staten Island.
“I grew up here. I’ve lived my entire life here,” Donovan said. “The shame is opening the newspaper every day or seeing one of your reports, and seeing another young person from Staten Island died.”
Donovan said the public helps most by keeping a safe distance from sketchy people, but providing assistance so police can take it from there.
Gjeshbitraj said he hopes his door begins a process of taking back Staten Island from druggies one stoop at a time.
Donovan said heroin grew in popularity because it is cheap and more available after law enforcement cracked down on illegal prescription pills.