As summer sinks in, police are “cracking” down on car audio sound systems following an “abundance” of noise complaints in Brooklyn.
On June 13, officers arrested two individuals and seized several speaker boxes related to noise complaints in an industrial area of Maspeth Avenue in East Williamsburg.
A number of allegedly “illegal” speakers and “sound devices” were also confiscated by officers in the same area late last month. On May 23, police were dispatched to 430 Maspeth Avenue near Newtown Creek after reports a number of people and vehicles playing music had gathered.
“They were causing a disturbance and these were taken away from them,” an NYPD spokesperson told Bushwick Daily.
Four criminal court summons were issued for “unreasonable noise from auto,” police said.
The incident occurred in the parking lot of a concrete mixing company that sits on the border of East Williamsburg and Bushwick. The business claimed its property has become a haven for noisy car enthusiasts in recent weeks.
“On the weekends my security guard tells me they come down here, they drink up and they smoke up a storm, and they party,” Michael Serrano, the office administrator for Empire Transit Mix Inc. “When we open up shop on Monday, we have to clean up all their crap.”
According to city data, there have been at least three 311 noise-related complaints stemming from the company’s address this month.
In June, the zip codes encompassing Bushwick — 11206, 11207, 11221, and 11237 — registered at least 147 noise complaints related to music blasting from vehicles. Across the city, New Yorkers have lodged a total of 295,561 noise complaints this year. These range from fireworks to ice cream trucks, helicopters, construction sites, noisy neighbors, sidewalk gatherings, and of course, excessive car music.
Noise complaints, however, have skyrocketed — nearly doubling — citywide since the COVID-19 pandemic steamrolled the city. Last year, 755,885 noise complaints were registered across the five boroughs — an increase of nearly 80% — from 421,476 noise complaints in 2019.
“Because people are home more right now during the pandemic, they probably notice it more,” the NYPD spokesperson stated.
For some residents, New York’s summer symphony of fireworks, ice cream trucks, jackhammers, car alarms, and thumping sound systems pose an eternal nuisance.
Phyllis Criscuooi, a 70-year-old retired widow living in Maspeth, said she frequently is awoken by bass rattling her entire home.
“It’s three and four times a night,” Criscuooi, told Bushwick Daily.
Criscuooi, who grew up in Flatbush, Brooklyn, has phoned her local precinct several times and made at least one 311 complaint this spring regarding the noise pollution.
“When the police come and chase them or whatever they do, we all go back to bed, and they’re back again — until almost five o’clock in the morning.”
The NYPD’s 104th Precinct posted images on social media of recent speaker busts, including some custom cars with trunks outfitted with walls of speakers, estimated to cost tens of thousands of dollars.
“It’s literally something out of fast and the furious,” Muhammed Haddabah, 21, a car audio technician, told Bushwick Daily after learning of the speaker bust.
Haddabah, whose father owns 718 Auto Sound in south Bushwick, said he’s personally invested about $3,000 in the sound system for his 2015 Mercedes S550. He was astonished to learn police were increasingly confiscating similar sound systems in the area.
“When somebody goes out of their way to put a music system like that in their car, it’s not just a music system, it’s more like an extension of themselves,” the lifelong audiophile explained. “These are serious systems.”
Haddabah worries that the NYPD’s recent crackdown on car audio enthusiasts could lead to over-policing — and ultimately impact business at his family-owned car electronics store.
“Of course it’s going to be bad for business,” Haddabah said. “For customers now having to worry about having their music and personal items seized…that’s something that raises a lot of red flags.”
Such custom sound systems are often designed for car audio competitions, police said.
“It’s a private vehicle and they’re allowed to modify it any way they see fit,” the NYPD spokesperson said. “There are competitions where people take their vehicles like this, that are modified like this, and they try to win prizes for loudest cars. It’s fine in the competition setting, it’s just not fine on the street.”
Other Brooklynites, however, consider those disturbances to be the essence of the neighborhood’s charm and comes with the territory of living in one of the noisiest cities on the planet.
“It’s ‘the city that never sleeps,” Lorraine Cruz, 31, told Bushwick Daily.
Cruz, a single mother of three, whose Bushwick roots stretch back generations, lives near Grover Cleveland Park in Ridgewood.
“We are accustomed to playing music outside loudly from birth,” she said. “Growing up, we watched and heard people beatboxing on the stoop, rapping, and playing instruments sitting on milk crates in corner stores. NYC never had a lot of recreational activities for us. Our stoop was our playground, the street was our park. It’s a form of celebration and that’s what created the ‘culture’ of playing music outside.”
The 31-year-old online entrepreneur is indifferent to the police crackdown on car audio systems.
“We sleep fine, we sleep peacefully,” she said.
All images: Dorian Geiger for Bushwick Daily
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