ALBANY — This could take broken windows to a whole new level.
A New York lawmaker wants to increase the penalties for damaging public property in the wake of a train derailment caused by an alleged saboteur and a rash of window smashings that left subway trains out of service.
N.Y. Sen. Diane Savino (D-Staten Island) unveiled legislation this week meant to make vandals think twice before targeting or tampering with public property.
“I think it’s a simple message that there has to be some retribution for people who not only target public property, but do so in a way that deprives the public of their right to the services they’re entitled to,” Savino told the Daily News.
The bill, introduced a day after a Bronx man was charged with tossing construction debris in front of an A train and causing a derailment at 14th St. in Manhattan, adds specific offenses pertaining to public property to already existing criminal mischief statutes and increases the potential jailtime vandals face if convicted.
Under the measure, if someone causes more than $1,500 worth of damage to public property that must then be removed from service they could face up to 25 years behind bars.
Current criminal mischief statutes don’t specifically mention publicly owned property and the top charge can only be applied if damage is caused “by means of an explosive.”
The bill is a direct response to a spate of window smashings that have cost the Metropolitan Transportation Authority hundreds of thousands of dollars and forced trains out of service and other recent events.
So many windows have been broken in recent months on the No. 7 line that the MTA has nearly used up its stock of replacement glass for the trains.
The damage has already cost the MTA nearly $400,000 to fix, and could lead to service cuts, officials have said.
“There seems to be a free pass for the vandalism of public property and we need to take a look at the underlying law,” Savino said. “The existing statute is not enough of a deterrent to prevent people from deliberately targeting public property.”
The MTA applauded the proposed legislation.
“We thank the senator for her steadfast support for keeping our system safe and appreciate any efforts to address criminal activity that jeopardizes our customers and employees and diverts desperately needed money that otherwise should be earmarked for service," said spokesman Ken Lovett
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