Police crack down on illegal street vendors in Flushing, but the solution isn't so simple

ByAnthony Carlo WABC logo
Friday, November 3, 2023
Police crack down on illegal street vendors in Queens
Anthony Carlo is live in Flushing with the latest details.

FLUSHING, Queens (WABC) -- A big crackdown is underway on illegal vendors in Flushing, Queens, but it's a complicated problem with voices on both sides of the issue.

Main Street in Downtown Flushing is a "no vending zone," which means that not even licensed vendors are allowed to sell products there.

Police say they received numerous complaints and handed out eight summonses and seized property on Thursday.

"They come by. They try to give us a fine also. They took some of the products," said Miles, a street vendor.

Miles sells religious items in Downtown Flushing. It was just some of the merchandise hauled away by police Thursday as they raided illegal vendors on Main Street. She knows it's a "no vending zone," but Miles needs the money. She was back out there a day later. She said she's afraid.

Illegal vending on Main Street continues to be a problem. Councilmember Sandra Ung personally invited NYPD Commissioner Edward Caban to see it firsthand on Friday.

"I think it was important for him to come down here and see what it was like, walk down the street and see the challenges the residents here are facing," Ung said.

Some of them are small business owners who say illegal street vendors are hurting their bottom line.

"The people here, they're doing a lot of sales with no license and a lot of those stores, we don't have no business," one business owner said.

The streets on the other hand are packed with illegal vendors. According to one Flushing resident who did not want to speak on camera, the vendors draw in crowds and filth.

"I'm Asian, I'm all for hard working and that's how I got to where I am," the resident said. "But do it legally or clean after yourself. You should see the sidewalk, it's so dirty."

A lot of the street clutter is now gone after being confiscated by police, but some say not for long.

"They've been done before so many times, but they still come back, they still come back," one woman said.

Others say there are bigger fish to fry.

"Why take it out on the unfortunate people trying to make a living," another person said.

Councilmember Ung says she hopes Commissioner Caban comes again and that police focus on quality-of-life issues in this area.

Petit larceny, which includes shoplifting, is up 37% over the last 2 years in the 109th Precinct, which covers Downtown Flushing.

Small business owners want attention on that too.


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