Graffiti tagger blankets Pel Bay with scrawl

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A late-night graffiti strike in Pelham Bay shocked residents who said it was one of the worst they ever saw.

Neighborhood tenant Alex Patanella said he first witnessed the recent vandalism on the morning of July 22.

“The vandal went over the whole side of a van and its window,” he explained about the scrawler who spray-painted a vehicle parked at the corner of Willow Lane and Westchester Avenue.

In the 10 plus years he’s lived in the neighborhood, Patanella said he’s never seen anything quite like the latest graffiti strike.

“You don’t expect to see this in this neighborho­od,” he said.

Community veteran Anita Valenti agreed. “We never, ever had graffiti in the community. Just nobody did it,” she explained.

Sadly, after 66 years in the area, she said it’s hard to see the community fall victim to such vandalism.

“It’s upsetting because most people want to live in a nice, clean neighborhood, and this graffiti is making it all worse,” she said. “It’s terrible because it makes the whole neighborhood look downscale.”

The tenants, however, aren’t the only ones suffering.

John Scanlon, owner of Pelham Bay Home Center at 3073 Westchester Avenue, said a slew of businesses in the area were also targeted.

“At least 10 places got graffitied in a two block radius,” he said, pointing out that his gate and wall were both hit in the past week with the word See, as was seen in many other instances, among other tags.

Police Officer Pasquale Pappalardi, the 45th Precinct’s graffiti officer, said that while he hasn’t identified the culprit by name, he expects it to be one young teenage boy who’s trying to earn street credit by slapping his symbol on as many sites as possible.

“I guess it’s because of the feast, and he wants to show everyone his tag,” he explained about St. Theresa’s 12th Annual Summer Feast that took place nearby on St. Theresa Avenue, between Edison and Hobart avenues, from July 23-27.

Pappalardi simply suggests, “The quicker people paint over them, the better.”

As for expected future activity, he added, “He’s not going to stop until he gets caught.”

Anyone with information on this or any other graffiti cases should call the 45th Precinct at (718) 822-5411.

For information on Graffiti-Free NYC, a City graffiti removal program, e-mail or call (212) 312-3943.

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