Thursday, August 5, 2010

Local Man Arrested for Graffiti Spree

L-R: Responsible for the investigation and the arrest are Sgt. Brian Goldberg, PO Frank Calafiore, Capt. Craig Adelman, PO Joseph Osolin and PO Frank Reina. Not pictured is PO Michael Baio.

By Patricia Adams

Kevin Harold’s car remains at the 106 Pct.
impound lot after it was positively confirmed
 to have been used in several of the incidents.
A tireless effort by the 106th Precinct to capture the graffiti vandal plaguing business owners and residents in Howard Beach for months came to an end with the arrest of a local man early last Friday morning.

Kevin Harold, a 28-year-old NYC Sanitation worker, was arrested at his Lindenwood home and charged with 14 separate counts including Making Graffiti and Criminal Mischief with Intent to Damage Property.

An aggressive investigation into Harold’s graffiti spree through Howard Beach and nearby communities has been ongoing since June, when the tagging started.

Captain Craig Adelman, Executive Officer of the 106, is in charge of traffic and graffiti within the confines of the precinct and has spearheaded efforts in the investigation. Following the arrest, the Capt. Adelman praised the efforts of his officers and the community throughout the investigation.

“This was a great job by everyone involved. Our cops really put every effort into this investigation, but we would not have able to bring this case to an end without the help of the community,” said Capt. Adelman.

Police Officer Frank Reina, who has long been responsible for investigating the area’s graffiti, viewed more than 50 surveillance videos in connection with the crime. He was joined on this case by the precinct’s Nighttime Conditions Unit, which is responsible for community policing and quality of life issues.

Sgt. Brian Goldberg, who heads up the Conditions Unit, says his guys were on it morning, noon and night. “We had some good leads and cooperation from the community and we had the dedication of the officers on the case.”

Leads had started to accumulate as anger built in the community with tags cropping up in prominent locations in Howard Beach, including Ragtime Gourmet and Blockbuster in addition to the side walls along avenues and underpasses. But the level of community outrage and frustration reached its peak when Harold allegedly left his mark along a wall of the former Bernard Fineson Center on 156th Avenue, tagging the word “retard”.

“That [Fineson Center tag] took this thing to a whole new level,” said Police Officer Frank Calafiore of the Conditions Unit. “The community was really outraged and so were we.” Fellow officers Joseph Osolin and Michael Baio worked with PO Calafiore, Sgt. Goldberg and PO Reina to bring the situation to a close.

Officer Reina explained how the team nailed Harold. “We had a general physical I.D. from some videos but we didn’t know who he was.” Reina said that the Conditions Unit received information from a man they questioned near the hospital site. The man gave police a license plate number of the individual he said was responsible for the tag.

In addition to Harold’s admitting to the crimes, the most damaging piece of video evidence came from the surveillance equipment at My Mothers Italian Ices on Rockaway Boulevard and Centreville Street. Those cameras showed Harold tagging the underside of the serving counter with a marker as he was ordering an Italian ice.

Community Affairs Officer Kenny Zorn says that there are other factors that should be taken into consideration with this arrest. “People tend to think of graffiti as more of a nuisance but few realize the broader implications of crime like this.” Zorn noted that the exhaustive amount of police resources that went into this investigation diverted attention away from other serious concerns within the precinct. “In his own way, this guy put a lot of people in jeopardy by tying up police personnel and diminishing other services. It’s just another big reason to continue to eradicate graffiti.”

Harold was released on his own recognizance following his initial appearance in a Queens County Court, has no prior arrests and will appear before a judge on September 23.

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