A bogus ambulance is just the ticket to trick a meter maid.
A mystery emergency vehicle, fitted with ambulance flashers and official markings, has hogged up space at an expired meter on Avenue N in Marine Park for more than a week, but has not been towed, area merchants claim — even though the “ambulance” is stuffed with construction material.
“It’s in front of a parking meter, and it’s full of ladders, tool boxes and sawdust, but the meter maids and the cops pass it by,” said Joe Cartelli, who owns VJ Discount Variety Store on E. 34th Street where the vehicle is parked. “They think it’s just an ambulance.”
Cartelli first noticed the bucket of bolts (and hammers and screwdrivers) on Jan. 6, but ignored it until customers quizzed him about it several days later.
“People were coming in and asking me, ‘What’s up with the ambulance?’” Cartelli said. When the merchant went to check it out he saw power tools and ladders inside, but no gurneys or medical equipment.
Cartelli called the 63rd Precinct and was puzzled when he was referred to 911.
“It’s not like it was a bank robbery!” he said.
Cops arrived on Jan. 10 and ran the plates, telling Cartelli that the vehicle was still registered as an ambulance. The cops slapped a summons on the vehicle, but didn’t have it towed.
“They told me there was nothing they could do,” Cartelli said. “I guess they didn’t want to be bothered.”
The ambulance hadn’t been towed off of Avenue N by Monday night. Cops from the 63rd Precinct say they are trying to find the vehicle’s owner and ensure that it hasn’t been reported stolen. Once that’s done, the vehicle will be taken away, a precinct community affairs officer explained.
Deactivated ambulances are often purchased for construction purposes because of their spacious interiors and pre-installed cabinets, but it’s illegal to operate one without removing the ambulance markings and replacing the emergency lights, said a member of the nearby Flatlands Volunteer Ambulance Corps, who didn’t want his name used.Reach reporter Colin MIxson at cmixson@cn