Half-hearted: Brooklyn Bridge love-lock crackdown more pun than punishment • Brooklyn Paper

Half-hearted: Brooklyn Bridge love-lock crackdown more pun than punishment

Crime and pun-ishment: The city is taking a page out of the Brooklyn Paper’s style guide and employing puns to get its message across.
Community News Group / Ruth Brown

This is a bit fishy!

City and police brass claim they’re cracking down on the scourge of tourists who secure so-called love locks and other pieces of junk to the Brooklyn Bridge by installing signs along the span saying “No locks, yes lox” — complete with images of a crossed-out latch and a gleaming smoked-salmon-stuffed bagel — and warning that there is a $100 fine for the infraction.

But the Police Department isn’t actually adding any extra patrolmen to the bridge, and the handful who are there aren’t looking to hand out tickets, according to the cop in charge — they’ll just try to lock-block lovebirds before they can seal the deal and hope the pun-y placards deter the rest.

“The point of this is education so tourists and individuals do not place locks on the bridge — we’re not looking to issue summonses to individuals and collect the $100 fine, we’d much prefer they follow the sign,” said Transportation Bureau Chief Thomas Chan, who helped launch the new signs on Friday. “If it looks like they’re going to place a lock, we’re going to tell them that they cannot place that particular item on the bridge.”

The padlock plague has been growing unabated since around 2009, and workers have snipped off 35,000 of the seals since 2013, according to officials — although people are now also tying on decidedly less romantic items including earphones, socks, and tissues.

In all that time, police have not issued a single summons for leaving a lock or other junk on the bridge, Chan said.

But the city is now taking a more offensive approach before it all ends in heartbreak, officials said — a lock-laden lamppost broke off the pedestrian path and plummeted to the roadway below last month, mercifully missing any Brooklyn-bound cars.

In addition to placing 16 of the warning signs along the walkway and instructing New York’s Finest to spring into action whenever they see a tourist threatening to snib, Department of Transportation honcho Polly Trottenberg says she recently asked the editors of major New York guidebooks to discourage their readers from leaving a lasting symbol of their amore on the bridge — but Chan says he thinks “99.99 percent” of people who see a sign or experience a police officer’s stern words will fall into line.

But local cops say they aren’t just scolding sweethearts — they recently stamped out an illicit lock-selling enterprise on the cross-borough thoroughfare.

“You had somebody actually selling the locks on the bridge, so we had to nip that in the bud,” said 84th Precinct Officer Donovan Hunt, who was strolling the span with fellow Officer John Condon on Friday. “It’s a process.”

The precinct has around 6–8 officers there at any given time, according to the award-winning crime-fighting duo, though they don’t patrol the bridge themselves.

The city will never be able to stop the fad completely, former Borough President Marty Markowitz said, but he thinks most people will sour on the idea once they realize the physical manifestation of their everlasting love will be severed in a matter of days.

“Of course you’re always going to get a percentage, but hopefully it dramatically reduces,” said the one-time Beep, a noted lover of funny signs who came out to support the city’s efforts. “If people eventually get the idea they’re being cut off, they’ll think, ‘What’s the point?’ ”

But the pleas and threats don’t seem to have killed the romance for many tourists, who think it looks great and say city bigwigs need to lighten up and see the beauty behind the gesture.

“It’s a message, it’s a nice idea,” said Israeli Moshe Aviran. “I would not try [it], but I think the city has to let people express themselves. This is expression with love.”

Reach deputy editor Ruth Brown at rbrown@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–8309. Follow her at twitter.com/rbbrown.

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