CROWN HEIGHTS — More than a dozen teenagers were caught on surveillance video flooding the entrance of a Crown Heights deli Saturday night, rushing inside and trashing the place after leaving a nearby party, police said.
The incident happened just after 9 p.m. Saturday at Gourmet Butcher, a deli at the corner of Troy Avenue and Carroll Street, according to police.
The large crowd of young people ran up to the shop as a few of them rushed inside the deli, swept armfuls of candy and items on the checkout counter onto the ground, flipped over a metal rack full of items for sale, and threw boxes off of shelves and onto the ground, according to surveillance video of the incident posted on the blog CrownHeights.info, which first reported the crime.
It “happened in seconds,” said Yanki Klein, owner of the Gourmet Butcher, which he opened three years ago.
Klein said the teens destroyed between $500 and $700 worth of inventory.
He said he heard a large crowd of people yelling outside the shop before the vandals came in. He said they knocked over things nearest to the door — “all the candies and cookies,” he said — and ran away.
“I was in shock. I called the police,” Klein said.
According to the video, several men in the shop reacted to the mayhem, one of them grabbing a broom and rushing towards the kids, who took off.
It’s not the first time Klein has had trouble with kids in the shop. Teens have stolen small items from his store before, he said, and a couple of times, young kids have run into the deli and asked "Is Hitler working here?" he said. But Saturday’s incident was the most severe he can remember.
“I don’t want to think how it could end if it there wasn’t a few people in the store,” he said.
Sources said police are using the surveillance video of the incident to try to identify those who caused the damage, but so far have not identified any suspects. The incident is not being investigated as a hate crime, police sources said.
Klein said he wants more police and cameras to be posted in the area to prevent similar crimes from happening in the future.
“We’re trying to make a living here and it’s very scary to be insecure,” he said.