Graffiti rises on First Lutheran Church

First Lutheran Church of Throggs Neck has been tagged by vandals yet again, but this time they were brash enough to climb up on scaffolding that was put in place for a restoration project.

The church was hit sometime in the late evening of Thursday, March 17 or early morning hours of Friday, March 18. The church is in the midst of a restoration project on its stained glass windows.

Vandals apparently climbed up on the scaffolding and tagged the side of the building and part of the windows that face the Bruckner Expressway side.

“They have hit the stained-glass windows themselves, and have now tagged the whole side of the building so you can see it from the Bruckner Expressway,” said Cathy Ziegler, a church elder. “Right now we are in the midst of major renovations, but this seems like it is always happening.”

Graffiti on the church has been a recurring problem, often happening several times every year according to Deborah Burke, who has been the church secretary for the last 16 years.

“When the workers on the project showed up for work in the morning, they found the graffiti, and I saw it when I arrived at 11 a.m.”

A boy scout troop used a church meeting room the evening of March 17, and the vandals must have attacked later that night, Burke said, noting that the vandalism has occurred in other places in and around the historic building.

“The vandals have carved their names into the steps in front of the church and written on the top of the steps with markers,” Burke said.

Right in front of the entrance way of the church, there was even some graffiti last year that had a girl professing her love for a guy in pink paint, Burke said.

If the vandals are arrested and brought to justice, they could face felony charges due to a new law that raised the penalty for anyone vandalizing the building or property of a house of worship to a class E felony, which carries a maximum prison sentence of up to four years.

“It is extremely disturbing whenever vandals target houses of worship or church property,” said Senator Jeff Klein, who co-sponsored the legislation. “These are sacred institutions that enrich our lives and communities, which makes it so important that we toughen the penalties for such disgraceful crimes. This sends a clear message that this behavior will no longer be tolerated in our neighborhoods.”

Senator Klein’s office will be sending a graffiti clean up crew to the church during the week of March 20.

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