Tag Archives: NYC

NYPD: Phony Bedbug Exterminator Robbing Queens Homes

4 Nov

11/4/2011 NYPD: Phony Bedbug Exterminator Robbing Queens Homes

The search is on for a man burglarizing houses in Queens — with the homeowners inside.

CBS 2’s Hazel Sanchez spoke to a couple of the victims about how he gets in the door by promising a much-needed service.

On Wednesday night a mother of three was too afraid to reveal her identity. She’s terrified the man who posed as an exterminator and burglarized her home right underneath her nose will return.

“He’s real. He really acts real,” the woman said when asked how persuasive his masquerade is.

The woman said she was alone with her 1-year-old daughter, when the phony exterminator showed up at her apartment on 41st Street in Astoria, Queens.

“He said he was actually [looking] for the bedbugs. I said ‘bedbugs?’ Usually my exterminator comes for, like, roaches. So I said, ‘Okay … be safe,’” the woman said.

 The suspect went alone into every bedroom, shutting the doors behind him and telling his victim to stay out of the rooms for 30 minutes to avoid inhaling fumes. All the while, police said, the fake bugman was snagging $15,000 worth of jewelry.

Investigators said the suspect then went to another apartment in the same building and victimized a 71-year-old woman with the same scam.

Police said the fake exterminator was wearing a blue uniform, what appeared to be a valid ID badge and was carrying a white spray tank, spraying what he claimed was an insecticide.

Police said the suspect was so believable he was able to convince the superintendent of another building to allow him into the super’s apartment to spray. But he took nothing.

Police said the suspect did take jewelry, including a wedding band, from an elderly couple in the super’s Astoria building. Sanchez spoke to another victim who was also afraid to show her face.

“Now, I’m scared to open the door for you,” she said.

Tenants are petitioning to their landlords to install security cameras to prevent other residents from being duped.

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Top 10 US Bedbug Cities

17 Sep
9/17/2011 Top 10 US Bedbug Infested Cities: We’ve looked at the figures and compiled the 10 worst US cities for bedbug infestation from January 1st through September 1st 2011.
Thousands of U.S. travelers hoped that the bedbugs wouldn’t bite this summer but reports show that they did, at an outstanding rate. In the wake of the 2010 Bedbug Epidemic the number of bedbug reports for 2011 shattered 2010 totals, according to Raveable.com, which has compiled bedbug encounters from travelers since the beginning of the year. Here are cities with the highest number of hotel bedbug reports in 2011 during the period January through September 1.
1) Anaheim CA
2) Columbus Ohio
3) Washington DC
4) Los Angeles CA
5) Chicago IL
6) Atlantic City NJ
7) Orlando FL

8 ) San Francisco CA
9) New York NY
10) Las Vegas NV

Did NYC Dept Of Education Cover Up Bedbugs?

8 Sep

9/8/2011 Did NYC Dept Of Education Cover Up Bedbugs? Inspection Last December Showed Evidence In PS 70 Astoria: Parents Were Not Notified

Parents and elected officials are furious at Astoria’s P.S. 70 for failing to notify them of a bedbug infestation that has been ignored since last winter.

An inspection was performed at the school in December, in which several bedbugs were found in one of the school’s closets with signs of breeding. No notification was given to the parents, students or teachers. Even Principal Donna Gellar was left in the dark; she was unaware an investigation took place to begin with.

Elected officials are concerned for the safety of the students upon returning to the school, as the new academic year has officially begun this week.

“The Education Department’s failure to notify parents and school officials about the bedbug infestation in a P.S. 70 classroom is outrageous,” Assemblymember Aravella Simotas said. “This type of negligence puts students and teachers at risk, and prevents families from taking necessary steps to protect their children.”

Students who come in contact with bedbugs from outside sources usually cause school infestations. That was the case with most of last year’s bedbug reports, which more than doubled: a whopping 3,590 to the previous year’s 1,019. At P.S. 70, the bugs were found within the school and were allowed to continue reproducing, earning the school the title of the worst bedbug infestation in the five boroughs.

“In the past, when bedbugs were discovered in a New York City public school, the parents of the affected child would be notified along with the parents of the affected student’s classmates,” state Senator Michael Gianaris said. “This policy seems to have been overlooked at P.S. 70.”

 This story leads many to wonder how many other schools have been discovered to have bedbugs but were never notified.

According to the Department of Education pest control unit, there was no law requiring them to notify the school at the time. However, Gianaris passed a Bedbug Notification Law in August of 2010 in “an effort to stop bedbug infestations from becoming an epidemic by requiring all families in an infested school to be notified of any bedbug cases”. The senator is requesting an explanation from the Department of Education on their failure to comply with said regulations.

“Parents of New York City school children deserve notification from school officials upon detection of bedbugs in their child’s school,” he said. “Children must be able to learn in an environment that is not hindered by bedbug infestations.”

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Bedbugs Triple In NYC Schools In One Year

22 Jul

7/22/2011 Bedbugs Triple In NYC Schools In One Year: Officials Prepare For That Number To Rise

Bedbugs were found in public schools three times as often last school year compared to the year before – and officials are preparing for even more of the pests when classes resume in the fall.

Some 3,590 reports of bedbugs at city schools were confirmed by Department of Education officials in the 2010-2011 year – up from just 1,019 a year earlier.

In most cases just one or two of bedbugs were found, but the consequences for students can be severe even when small numbers of the pests are discovered.

“Fumigation for the bugs destroyed four of our classrooms completely,” said Lucille Mauro, a gym teacher and union chapter leader at Public School 197 in Midwood, Brooklyn, where one or two bedbugs were discovered nine separate times last year.

Damage from chemicals used to exterminate the pests ruined classroom libraries and other teaching materials that the school is still struggling to replace.

“It’s been disruptive for the kids,” said Mauro, who is also the teacher’s union chapter leader at PS 197.

To prevent the return of the pests next year, teachers and students at the school are storing bookbags and jackets in plastic bags and containers.

Education officials said they’re working to better control the problem of bedbugs in schools across the city.

State laws compel public schools to notify parents when bedbugs are found, even if just a single pest is discovered.

DOE spokeswoman Margie Feinberg said that most incidents at city schools involved only one bedbug brought in by someone coming into the building.

“Schools are not hospitable environments for bedbugs,” said Feinberg.

But some experts think it’s likely that more of the bugs will turn up in city classrooms next year.

“More people have the bugs in their homes, so more will probably show up in schools,” said Richard Cooper, an entomologist who served on the city’s Bedbug Advisory Board.

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NYC Denies Woman’s Claims Of Bedbugs At Homeless Shelter

15 Jul

7/15/2011 NYC Denies Woman’s Claims Of Bedbugs At Homeless Shelter: Claims Shelter In Mott Haven Has Razor Toothed Bedbugs

A Bronx mother is claiming her family got a creepy crawly surprise last week at a borough homeless shelter – bedbugs.

But the Department of Homeless Services declared the shelter is bedbug-free and is accusing Sharon Stoves, 27, of lying to manipulate the system.

Stoves and her three daughters spent about a year at a shelter near Yankee Stadium before moving last Friday to Jackson Avenue Family Residence, a shelter on E. 138th St. in Mott Haven.

Other residents insist the building is clean and well-run.

Stoves claims she woke up early Saturday to an attack by razor-toothed bedbugs, and even has a plastic cup of the critters that she claims she collected before fleeing the unit.

“There were bedbugs on me,” she said. “I grabbed the kids and there was a bedbug on my daughter’s ear.”

They spent the rest of the night with the girls’ father.

Stoves demanded a transfer from DHS. The agency sent an exterminator to inspect her unit, and found no trace of bedbugs and Stoves was told to return, said Heather Janik, a DHS spokeswoman.

“Bedbugs are a serious problem throughout the city and we are addressing this as such,” Janik said. “The unit was aggressively treated by an expert contractor and no bedbugs were found.”

Stoves claims she and her daughters were bitten, but DHS found no signs of bedbug bites.

Jackson residents Armando Troche, 29, and Mary Santiago, 57, said Tuesday their units are bedbug-free.

According to Janik, “Ms. Stoves’ false claims and demands to be relocated are rooted in avoiding shelter compliance and moving herself and her children towards self-sufficiency.”

The average cost of housing a family in the shelter system is $3,000 per month.

On Saturday, Stoves – who is unemployed – refused to return to Jackson.

“They wanted to send me back to the same shelter with the bedbugs,” she said. “I was grossed out and disgusted.”

On Monday, Stoves again demanded a transfer and DHS moved the family to a shelter on Sherman Ave. near E. 167th St.

Bedbug panic gripped the city last year, following sightings at hotels and SoHo clothing stores.

The shelter system is no different, said Patrick Markee, spokesman at Coalition for the Homeless, a watchdog group that has documented bedbug infestations in several city shelters.

But DHS has taken steps to prevent the city’s bedbug problem from affecting the shelter system, said Janik.

City Department of Housing Preservation and Development records show that a bedbug complaint was filed at Jackson on June 24.

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Bedbugs Found In Philadelphia Police Station

14 Jul

7/14/2011 Bedbugs Found In Philadelphia Police Station: Second Northeast City Police Force To Be Infested This Week

Police officers across the city are being warned of a frustratingly stubborn enemy that has infiltrated their workplace: bedbugs.

An infestation was discovered last week in the building in Mayfair that houses the Second and 15th Police Districts and the Northeast Detective Division.

The bedbugs came to light after inmates in several holding cells were bitten, said Roosevelt Poplar, vice president of the Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge No. 5.

An exterminator treated the infested areas twice, and the department’s administration is closely monitoring the situation, said Lt. Raymond Evers of the Public Affairs Unit.

Joan Schlotterbeck, the city’s public property commissioner, said that one inmate had brought the bugs to the building and that an exterminator believed the infestation was confined to three cells.

Those cells have wooden benches that are different from those in other units, she said. They will be removed.

The cell block has been evacuated. Cells will be power-washed, crevices will be sealed, and the walls will be repainted, Schlotterbeck said.

“At this point, we believe we’re doing everything we can,” Schlotterbeck said.

Poplar said the entire building at Harbison Avenue and Levick Street should have been treated for bedbugs. About 500 officers work out of the building, he said, and the bugs may have hitched rides with inmates who were transferred.

“These bugs, they can be carried on people,” he said. “They can be carried in a car, to another district. The holding cells have people coming in and out all day long. We’re talking about potentially thousands of people who could be affected by this.”

Officers will be asked to report any signs of infestation. Employees who wish to take extra precautions can wash and dry their clothes as soon as they get home from work, Schlotterbeck said.

Poplar said several officers had told him that they might have unknowingly carried bugs home in their clothing. “These guys are under enough stress as it is without worrying about taking bugs home to their families,” he said.

The bedbug resurgence began about 10 years ago in hotels and apartment buildings in large cities nationwide. The bloodsucking insects are known for resilience. Clothes and other belongings must be heated to extreme temperatures to kill them, and the bugs can hide in wooden furniture or baseboards for a year without food.

Though New York City has been seen as the center of the scourge, the problem is on the rise here. Terminix, the national exterminating company, this year ranked Philadelphia fifth among U.S. cities for bedbugs, with New York still in first.

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NYC Bedbug Complaints Rise

11 Jul

7/11/2011 New York City Bedbug Complaints Rise Even As Violations Drop

The bedbug wave that caused widespread unease in New York homes, offices, movie theaters and retail stores may have been somewhat more hype than bite, according to data from city agencies.

While residential complaints through the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development rose in the last fiscal year, violations have decreased. There were 4,481 violations issued as a result of 13,140 complaints in 2011, compared with 4,808 violations and 12,768 complaints in 2010.

And though the city’s nonemergency hot line, 311, did report a record 34,044 bedbug-related calls for the fiscal year ended June 30, a 7% increase, as a proportion of overall traffic there were slightly fewer bedbug-related calls made in fiscal year 2011 than in 2010. Bedbug calls represent less than 1% of the total received by the hot line, which fields all types of inquiries.

Regardless, local pest-control companies say there is a boom in the business of bedbug-busting. They say the outbreaks last year in popular clothing stores such as the Epic Hollister in SoHo and the Victoria’s Secret on the East Side were just the start.

They say New Yorkers shouldn’t let down their guards during the winter months, either.

“Bedbugs are 12-month bugs,” said Missy Henrickson, vice president of public affairs for National Pest Management Association.

“It got so bad it showed up everywhere and it carried into the winter. We were getting more calls than ever in the winter,” said Jeff Eisenberg, president of Pest Away Exterminator Inc. and author of “The Bedbug Survival Guide.”

Mr. Eisenberg predicts that the bedbug problem will be worse than ever this year. The problem has spread beyond the city, too.

“The suburbs of New York have been decimated,” he said.

Barry Beck, chief operating officer of Assured Environments, said bedbugs calls to his business lagged in the early part of this year because of a cold winter and spring. The reproductive cycle of bedbugs is faster in warmer months.

“With the heat and humidity, things have been ramping up quickly,” said Mr. Beck, adding that 80-degree temperatures are “heaven” for the blood-suckers.

Bites can cause a rash and potentially lead to a secondary infection, but serious health risks are not known. A Department of Health and Mental Hygiene spokeswoman said that “though bacteria can be isolated from the bodies of bedbugs, there is no evidence that these bacteria or the illnesses they could cause can be transmitted to people from a bedbug.”

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