This year, American Auto Body (aka American Collision) felt the full wrath of the NYPD and community. Since 2007, they have been parking junked automobiles all over the streets and sidewalks on and near Flushing Avenue in Maspeth. Complaints from the community stacked up against American over the years. Captain Wachter and Detective Bell visited the location this past May and spoke with the owner who was changing oil on a vehicle that was parked on the sidewalk. Captain Wachter told the owner to stop parking wrecked cars on the streets and sidewalks, and when he asked the owner why he continues this practice, the owner told him, “My business has grown far beyond when I first started, and if I had to store these vehicles inside it would cost me $5,500 each month to pay for storage.” Captain Wachter then planned a mass tow operation at American, which took place May 29th (Memorial Day Weekend). This resulted in fifteen towed cars, one of which included an unlicensed tow truck, with numerous violations issued.
Then on August 26 at 1:30 pm, another complaint was received by the 104th Pct stating that American Collision had at least ten wrecks without plates lined up from 59th street to Flushing Avenue. Captain Wachter and Captain Mackie quickly hatched Operation Clean Sweep. In less than an hour, Supervisor Russo from NYPD Traffic mobilized four tow trucks and converged on Flushing Avenue and 60th Street, with 104th patrol and traffic units blocking off traffic. Tow trucks started hooking up their first round of vehicles. Two of these wrecked vehicles were parked on the sidewalk, and another was a tow truck without plates affixed. American had the nerve to ask the Captain why he was towing their cars. Several hours later, the operation was completed, resulting in twenty-two vehicles being towed from the street.
The following day, 104 Precinct Traffic Safety prepared two Environmental Control Board summonses to be served on American. The violations were for obstructing a sidewalk and each carries a $500 penalty. 104th Precinct Traffic Safety also sent a request downtown to have American’s towing privileges for the Police Department (i.e. directed accident response program, rotation tow program) revoked.
Let’s review the timeline of events leading up to the latest towing blitz:
2007: Residents living near Flushing Avenue first complained about American Towing Company parking wrecks on residential streets and blocking sidewalks. The precinct and Mayor’s office was notified.
2009: American Towing Co. continued to park
vehicles on residential streets. They had taken over a pedestrian triangle and were blocking entire streets with their tow trucks. JPCA contacted WPIX-TV news and NY1, and both reported on
conditions. Little changed after the reports.
2011: The 104th Pct received numerous complaints from the community and community board about American Auto Body parking wrecked vehicles on Flushing Avenue and surrounding blocks, on the plaza at 59th Street and all along the Flushing Avenue overpass. Captain Cody (104 Commanding Officer) and Captain Travaglia (104 Executive Officer) had numerous cars towed and American’s towing privileges for the Police Department were
suspended for 6 months.
Late 2014: Again, the 104th Pct received the same exact complaints from the community and community board about American Auto Body, including numerous 3-1-1 complaints. The Precinct addressed the complaints and periodically monitored it thereafter for additional violations.
February 2015: Complaints from a neighborhood resident were made to Assembly Member Cathy Nolan’s office about American parking wrecked vehicles on the sidewalk during the winter where piles of plowed snow already occupied much of the sidewalks. Captain Mackie
visited the location and noticed wrecked cars parked on the “plaza” at 59th Street and Flushing Avenue, and enforcement was conducted. The owner was warned by the Captain to discontinue the practice. One week later, Captain Manson and Detective Bell noticed more wrecked cars parked outside American and conducted a tow operation, towing numerous vehicles and issuing numerous violations. The 104 Precinct periodically monitored the location thereafter for additional violations.