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Graffiti tags spotted in Merrick, Bellmore

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A graffiti vandal or vandals defaced a vacant building on Merrick Road two weeks ago, leaving behind spray-painted marks, known in street parlance as tags. A resident first noticed the tag — a collage of green, red and blue paint spelling out indiscernible words in bubble letter text — on Aug. 25, and notified the Herald Life. There are at least three different signatures included in the design, suggesting more than one vandal.

The vacant, three-story building at 1812 Merrick Road — formerly The Fashion Class — is next door to Left Coast Kitchen & Cocktails, a gastropub. Left Coast’s owner, Chris Randell, said he believes the incident occurred on the night of Aug. 24.

“I’m sure they were on my building and climbed up somehow,” he said.

Behind Left Coast is a small parking lot with a few rolling dumpsters. Randell said he believed the vandals might have used items behind the building, such as a ladder, to climb to the restaurant’s roof and tag the side of the vacant building. There are no visible ladders or scaffolds attached to either property.

Matt Shane, a real estate agent with All Island Commercial, said he had spoken with the daughter of the vacant building’s owners, who told him that they would hire someone to “take it down.”

On Tuesday morning, a Herald photographer snapped a photo of the Northwell Health Physician Partners facility in Bellmore, which appeared to have several graffiti tags marked on a number of its windows.

South Merrick Community Civic Association President Joe Baker said the size of the tag on the vacant building in Merrick is “pretty big.”

“My first impression is that they really went out of their way to get this thing up there,” Baker said. “Certain cameras may . . . help identify who did it or how they got up there.”

Baker called Nassau County Police Department Officer Tom Lively, of the 7th Precinct, who told Baker that the department’s gang unit would look into the incident.

Detective Vincent Garcia, who works in the NCPD’s public information office, said that the 7th Precinct’s problem-oriented policing officers are aware of the graffiti. He also said the nature of the tag suggests that it is “not a bias crime” or gang-related.

“Usually when a gang is going to tag, they’re going to make a statement,” Garcia explained. “Officers are investigating to see if that tag is similar to something they saw somewhere else, so they can try to place it to a face.”

Both tags are classified as criminal mischief, Garcia said. Under New York state penal law, the vandals can face a charge of second-degree criminal mischief if the damage to the properties exceeds $1,500.

The Town of Hempstead Building Department is investigating the Merrick property, and planned to issue a violation and letter to the property owner stating that if the graffiti is not cleaned up in 10 days, the town would do so.

In a statement to the Herald Life, Town Councilwoman Erin King Sweeney said, “The Town of Hempstead does not tolerate vandalism in our communities, and we are committed to keeping our neighborhoods beautiful and vibrant.”