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Good cameras make bad neighbors

Digital discord: Evette Simmons has surveillance cameras trained on her neighbor’s yard and streams the feed to her cellphone.
Brooklyn Daily
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A long-running quarrel between Mill Basin neighbors has entered the information age — both homeowners have trained security cameras on one another’s property 24 hours a day, seven days a week. One rival can even stream the feeds to her phone in case she wants to take the fussin’ and a-feudin’ on the road, she said.

“I see everything on my iPhone,” said Mill Basin homeowner Evette Simmons. “All my cameras are pointed at his driveway.”

The digital-age stratagem stems from an age-old motif — one neighbor is accusing the other of making the neighborhood look trashy.

Since 2010, Evette Simmons has lodged more than a hundred complaints to the city against her neighbor John Hussein, claiming he’s running a contracting business out of his home on Schenectady Avenue between Avenues M and N.

The city responded by fining Hussein to the tune of $32,700 for myriad violations, including parking commercial vehicles in his driveway and storing construction equipment in his rear yard.

But the city didn’t come down hard enough for Simmons’s liking, and, three years ago, she installed security cameras on her house pointed square at Hussein’s property, giving her a constant feed of the goings-on at her nemesis’s home.

Hussein refuted allegations that he’s running a commercial business out of his private property. He complained to police about the alleged harassment in general and the surveillance in particular, but they told him that Simmons, who works for the police department’s Medical Division, is within her rights, Hussein said.

“They said there’s nothing I can do,” he explained.

So, last year, Hussein escalated the conflict and installed cameras of his own, claiming his neighbor left him no choice.

“Now I have my camera too,” he said. “She forced me to.”

Now, Hussein’s family must endure the cold war of constant surveillance, and the affect has been devastating, he said.

“She’s seriously harassing me,” he said. “I’m telling you 110 percent. My wife is literally crying. I have five kids. Everybody’s tired of her.”

But Simmons is quite pleased with the effect her cameras have had, and says that Hussein has curtailed his illicit business practices as a result of the unremitting, total information warfare.

“It certainly has helped,” she said. “It was really bad, extremely bad. Now it’s a slight bother.”

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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