Residents Speak on the Rise of Crime on Ocean Avenue

A lobby once filled with children is now filled with empty scooters. A basement filled with tenants making small talk, and doing laundry, is only seeing dust bunnies after sunset.

The building front used to be filled with old people sitting around enjoying the fresh air, however today it only has cameras and empty benches to occupy the space.

Before police activity was required, Ocean Avenue was known for being a safe avenue. Over time there has been an increasing need for security to keep Sheepshead Bay safe. NYPD warning signs and cameras needed to be installed, for safety purposes.

George Petrov was born at Coney Island Hospital, and brought straight to Ocean Avenue. He has been living in this neighborhood for 24 years, and remembers when the liquor store on the right-hand corner used to be a pizzeria and when the deli on the left-hand side used to be a T-Mobile store.

“I left for college and when I came back, I noticed that a lot of things have changed. My mom would always tell me that the neighborhood is becoming unsafe but I did not believe it until I came back, and it was all people in the building talked about,” Petrov said.

Individuals who live in Sheepshead Bay, are starting to fear the neighborhood they have lived in for years. After many incidents have taken place, it is no longer safe for children to be playing outside unattended or for tenants to go down to the laundry room after sunset.

Some incidents include basements robberies, deli owners being robbed and neighbors being held at gunpoint.

The super of 2765, Benny Di Maggio, has been in charge of the building for over 18 years. He has experienced every change the neighborhood has gone through. In the past couple of weeks, he needed to have cameras installed, in order to avoid theft involvement.

“There have never been theft issues in this building before. Now our basement is always a target. In this month, building supplies have been stolen two times.”

As of this week, more cameras are being placed in the building for protection.

“I am trying to get as many cameras as we can afford placed in the building. This is me doing what I can to find out who is targeting the building,” said the super.

Many of the tenants have children in the building, who are used to playing outside or in the lobby. Now, the lobby and front building have been emptier throughout the summer and fall. Tenants like Tatiana Barska, who has lived in the building for over ten years. She has two sons and she no longer feels comfortable letting them play alone.

“My boys are used to playing in front of the building, and I don’t keep them from doing it, but not as often as before. It is scary when I keep hearing stories from neighbors about crazy things that happen.”

Some of these crazy things involve Tatiana’s neighbor from the next-door building being held at gunpoint, in broad daylight.

“I was coming out of my parked car when I saw the neighbor from next door yelling at the cops, explaining to them that two young guys came out of a red truck and pulled out a gun, just to give him a scare and then drove away in their truck,” Tatiana said.

Her face began to look pale, as she continued to explain this horrific experience.

“Since that day I began to feel scared for my kids and myself. I wondered how something like this could happen during the day, while an innocent man is sitting outside,” she said. “It makes me sad and worried because my kids are always walking alone from school or from the grocery store.”

2765 Ocean Avenue is one of three buildings on its block. Across the street, many doctor’s offices, markets, and condos have recently opened. This has attracted a new audience to the neighborhood.

Mev Kolar is a tenant who has lived on the first floor of the building for the past eight years. “Having the cameras installed was smart. My bedroom window faces the street and at night, my husband and I, always hear strange activity and police involvement. Most of the yelling we hear is from drunk Russians late at night, but it is always scaring hearing loud sounds by my window.”

Recently, the building directly across the street posted an NYPD warning sign letting people know that the building is being watched by the NYPD, and that they will be alerted when something is suspicious.

Deena Vula has been living in the building with her four-year-old son for just three years. As a single mom, she wanted a safe neighborhood for her and her son to live in.

“I was happy to move into this neighborhood, and I am still happy. I just need to be more alert and on the lookout because of everything I have heard. I do fear that if I leave my babies stroller outside of my door, someone will steal it since people have been stealing in the building,” Deena said.

A deli, open 24 hours, opened about three years ago on the corner of Ocean Avenue and Avenue X. Since their opening, the family owning the business has had a hard time. Their store has been robbed more times than they could recall.

“It is sad. We opened this second location after the first one was doing well. Sometimes we have to close the door at 11 PM and use the window only because we have people walk in, wanting to start trouble,” the deli manager’s wife said.

The world is not as safe as it used to be. This is just one neighborhood out of many that may be going through changes, that are making it unsafe.

“The camera installments and active police officers in the neighborhood are a good start and attempt to keep us, and everyone living and working in this neighborhood safe. It is sad to see the neighborhood I grew up in developing for the worse,” said George.