Whenever I use the phrase “thug auto body shops”, I am not using it for effect or a joke, I truly mean it in a literal sense. From their blatant, arrogant attitude to skirt the law and do whatever they please such as placing junked/unlicensed cars all over city streets & sidewalks making the Jamaica/SE Queens community a junkyard (especially those ones all along Merrick Blvd), with very little enforcement to their thug tactics of one place (Reel Deal Auto) in St. Albans, where in 2014 myself, community activist Pamela Hazel & a Queens Ledger reporter went to after hearing about some issues with this place and residents (https://cleanupjamaicaqueens.wordpress.com/2014/02/02/st-albans-thug-auto-chop-shop-takes-over-streets-and-threatens-residents/). Reel Deal Auto placed illegal signs on people’s property such as fences stating NO PARKING BY NYC. One resident (who actually seemed somewhat scared when we talked to them) told us they had their tires flattened for parking in their own area. I talked to a few of the guys there as well as some of them over on Merrick. Now I did not grow up in some lily white picket fenced neighborhood, far from it and I know a thug when I see one and some of these guys seemed totally questionable and not your regular “auto body shop” worker. My cousin owned an auto garbage.
Could this explain, why so little seems to be done about these shops and their skirting of the law for years. Are some of the “powers that be” having their palms greased to look the other way and do nothing? Considering some of the powers to be in our community, some who have gone to jail, this is not far fetched at all.
SO WHY ISN’T ANYTHING BEGIN DONE? What about all those unlicensed cars, where are they coming from? I mean the area is known for being a dumping ground for stolen cars (many of those covered up ones are stolen)? By the way ever talk to someone on the phone from one of those thousands of “cash for your car” signs that litter our community (another issue ignored), I have, certainly they do not sound like legit businesses and are not very “customer service friendly”, plus numbers change constantly. Sounds like a good investigative story media folks and not just about the cars being parked illegally. Much better story than some useless elected official doing some lame street naming ceremony. Below is from a reader in the SE Queens area.
From a reader:
You’ve been carrying out a pretty public ‘war’ with some of these auto-collision places for some time, and it has been getting some good media coverage. Everything you’ve been doing is totally justified and you deserve high praise for doing much of this single-handedly.
A few years ago, someone left a post-it note on a vehicle at the end of my driveway that wasn’t currently being driven: it is not a ‘junk car’. The note was an offer of $500 for the car and a number, no name of a business or person. I was pretty pissed that someone came deep onto my property and thought nothing of sort of ‘presenting me an offer I couldn’t refuse’, so to speak. I called the number and asked who they were, what made them think they could behave this way, and angrily told them not to repeat the ‘offer’. The answer I got was equally angry, almost violent, as if they had the ‘right’ to do this, had no qualms about doing it, and would do it again. I was asked: ‘what the fuck are you going to do about it’? I didn’t have an answer. A web search gave a location in South Ozone Park, in an industrial strip.
I also reported this to the 107th precinct, where a detective told me that based on his knowledge of the area and these businesses, that I would be advised to ‘use caution’. I believe he was warning me – in effect – that these were borderline criminal enterprises, or fronts for other organized crime activity. I only wanted to relay this to you, to maybe also exercise caution when dealing with – and putting ‘exposure’ on – some of these operations which by your own observation, have no problem violating parking/storage/disposal laws, and who knows what other laws.
The key part of this story was the fact that the number that was left on my SUV was for an auto glass replacement shop, on a strip that included many auto-body/collisions specialist garages of the type that you’ve been targeting in your reports. That’s why I sent you the account: these places all seem to be run by similar people.