Following the arrest of a man accused of punching a tourist who refused to buy fake tickets to see the Statue of Liberty, officials are increasing patrols in the area, News 4 Investigates has learned.
It's hard to miss the vendors hounding visitors and tourists near the Statue of Liberty ferry terminal at Battery Park.
On Monday, one encounter turned physical. Police say a woman tried to sell an Arkansas tourist fake tickets, and when he refused a man punched him in the face, knocking him unconscious and fracturing his skull. Both were arrested.
“They can get very aggressive, it’s stiff competition. There are a lot of them out here,” Parks Enforcement Patrol Inspector Benne McCants told News 4 Investigates.
Many vendors are soliciting on park property, which is illegal without a permit, McCants said.
The Parks Enforcement Patrol issued approximately 200 summonses for illegal ticket vending in the Battery Park area from January 2015 to January 2016 - roughly double the number issued a year earlier.
The increase is at least partially due to the hiring of new officers in the summer of 2015. An additional 12 officers will be added to the effort this coming spring, officials said.
Officials warn that anyone purchasing tickets from these vendors might not get what they paid for.
"If you don’t go to an official stand ... you don’t know what you’re getting," McCants said. "You can be getting anything, and you can be paying the wrong price!"
One vendor, John Greene, defended himself, arguing that he sells legitimate tickets to an independent boat tour around Liberty Island. They may not bring visitors onto the island itself like the official ferry, but they're not fakes, he said.