Source: NYDailyNews.com – 14.5.2011
City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. said he will introduce legislation this month to ban sales of 'fat caps' to anyone under 21.
A Queens pol who has championed anti-graffiti laws wants to crack down on "fat caps," a device he says vandals put on spray-paint cans to tag wider areas in less time.
Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. said he will introduce legislation this month to ban sales of fat caps to anyone under 21 and require older patrons to show ID.
He previously helped pass laws that restrict the sale of spray-paint cans and broad-tipped markers. He has also sponsored a bill restricting the sale of etching acid.
"Vandals are now destroying homes and businesses and monuments like never before," Vallone said. "The more tools they come up with to destroy property, the more tools we have to give to law enforcement to protect properties."
Community groups hope the fat caps bill will hinder the spread of what's become a must-have accessory for vandals.
"If you can do twice as much damage in half the time, it covers much more ground," said Anthony Meloni, director of the Queens civic group New York Anti-Crime Agency.
Felix DeVito, who owns a fuel oil business in Vallone's district in East Elmhurst, marveled at how quickly vandals can deface his Astoria Blvd. property with fat caps.
"They'll walk up – boom, boom, boom – and they're done in four seconds and they're gone," DeVito said.
But artists who use fat caps for legal graffiti projects are defending the small tools, which produce a spray a few inches wider than traditional "thin caps." They say fat caps are not used solely by criminals.
They also argue that forcing fat cap buyers to show IDs invades their privacy.
"It's not like these are some kind of illegal items," said Robert Huggins, a manager at Tuff City Tattoos in the Bronx, which sells fat caps. "It's not in the same category as a bullet."
Jonathan Cohen, who founded the 5Pointz collective in Queens as an outlet for graffiti artists, also mocked Vallone's idea.
"That's ridiculous," he said. "They might as well put cameras on every friggin' corner of Manhattan and you have no rights."
One website, grafcaps.com, offers a $1.95 deal for 10 "New York fat caps," billed as an "old-school staple of your cap collection."
The webmaster did not return calls and emails seeking comment.
Vallone charged fat caps are targeted to youth, citing a toy given to him by cops that he said glamorizes fat caps and serves "to glorify this criminal lifestyle."
"It appears to be nothing more than a new addition to the graffiti culture and [a way to] indoctrinate the 11-year-olds," he said.