Three makeshift crack pipe vending machines were found planted on the side of roads in Long Island, causing local residents to complain to authorities on Sunday. The machine, which authorities say are disguised as pen vending machines, dispensed a small glass tube and a filter made from modified pens for $2 each.
The blue and white vending machines featured the words “Sketch Pens” on its outside in black and red font and were mounted in cement into the ground around Brookhaven, including in front of a shopping center, according to WABC-TV. Two of them have been removed, and the third has been partially been destroyed by community members.
The dispensers were initially reported to officials as pen dispensers, considering they were first spotted during the first week of school in the community. The machines dispensed pipes that appeared to be made out of a broken down pen, with a small piece of gauze.
“You think you’ve heard of everything,” Town of Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine said at the conference on Monday, as quoted by WABC-TV. “I continue to be surprised by some of the audacity of those that would break the law in promoting drugs and drug paraphernalia.”
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Local resident Danielle Blom told local media that one of the dispensers was located just outside her apartment complex in Medford, according to the WABC-TV report. She said an angry community member 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.”
To sell regular pens or even pipes is not illegal, Councilman Michael Loguercio said, but to sell anything that is being dispensed from a machine installed illegally is against city code, he said. However, the city considers these pipes as drug paraphernalia.
“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, according to Fox News. “I don’t remember ever buying a pen that came with a pack of filters, so I think it’s pretty obvious.”
Suffolk County police are investigating the situation and will decide whether individuals responsible for putting up the machines will face criminal charges.
“To sell a pipe is not illegal, but this is considered drug paraphernalia,” Town Councilman Michael Loguercio told WABC-TV. “And it also is being dispensed from a machine that was installed illegally per town code.”