SUFFOLK COUNTY, NY—Police in Brookhaven and Suffolk County, NY are trying to figure out who erected three potential crack pipe vending machines throughout Coram and Medford. The potential crack pipe vending machines were marketed as pen vending machines.
Reports and complaints flooded in over the weekend, two machines have been removed, one of which had been destroyed.
The vending machines have “sketch pens” printed across the front. The repurposed tampon dispensers were mounted into cement and would dispense a glass tube and a filter. The top of a pen and an ink tube were included, which can be used to make a pen. The pens were marked at $2 a piece and can only be purchased using quarters. Why are the pens being sold disassembled when you can get a pack of assembled pens for a dollar?
“It is an interesting situation: Is it a pen? Is it drug paraphernalia?” Dean Murray, a New York Assemblyman, said at the same press conference. “I don’t remember ever buying a pen that came with a pack of filters, so I think it’s pretty obvious.”
“It’s a crack pipe,” Town of Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine exclaimed, as he held up one of the items. “It’s a ceramic, glass pipe disguised as a pen. There’s a filter in there that you use to smoke crack.”
“You think you’ve heard of everything,” Romaine added at a conference on Monday. “I continue to be surprised by some of the audacity of those that would break the law in promoting drugs and drug paraphernalia.”
One dispenser was installed in front of the Coram Commons shopping center. Resident Scott Malz took a video of it on Saturday and posted it on Facebook. “I wanted the community to see what was going on and try to get rid of it as quick as possible,” he said. “Because that’s actually a bad area for drugs.” Residents believe this area was targeted specifically for that reason.
Danielle Blom said one was posted outside her apartment complex on Route 112 in Medford. She said an irate neighbor smashed it to pieces. “We’ve been here for three years,” she said. “We’ve never had any problems, and now this. So it’s pretty disgusting.”
Romaine said parents in the area originally thought the dispensers were there to supply pens for the start of a new school year, but a local fireman had notified the town that that was not the case.
Despite community outrage, police are unsure if the machines warrant criminal charges. “To sell a pipe is not illegal, but this is considered drug paraphernalia,” Town Councilman Michael Loguercio said, “and it also is being dispensed from a machine that was installed illegally per town code.”