By Marcus E. Howard
NEW YORK (Reuters) - At least 13 New York vendors were arrested in a crackdown on selling tickets to tourists for New York Harbor boat rides that authorities said never stopped at the Statue of Liberty or nearby Ellis Island as promised, the New York Police Department said Thursday.
The vendors were charged with fraudulent accosting following an investigation that began in February into ticket-selling practices at Battery Park, a popular Lower Manhattan site where visitors can buy tickets for boat tours.
"You come up to people, you promise them one thing and you sell it to them, and it turns out not to be the case," John Miller, deputy police commissioner, said about the vendors at news conference on Wednesday.
Miller, who oversees intelligence and counterterrorism operations, said the arrested vendors, whose ages ranged from 26 to 52, had criminal records.
"You had a large number of people who were on parole or probation, mostly parolees, for serious crimes, including assault, narcotics and robbery who made up the bulk of ticket sellers," he said.
The vendors worked for five different companies, some of which have been connected to convicted criminals, according to media reports.
In February, a 33-year-old tourist was injured with a fractured skull after he declined to buy a ticket from a vendor at Staten Island Ferry's Whitehall Terminal, according to authorities.
A string of similar incidents involving fraudulent and aggressive ticket vendors have been reported in recent years in the media.
Police advise visitors to be aware of counterfeit tickets and to purchase tickets from authorized providers.
The crackdown follows an initiative in Times Square, another popular New York City tourist destination, to restrict the activities of costumed mascots and others who invite visitors to take pictures with them and solicit tips in return.
After complaints about aggressive tactics by some of the dozens of characters working in the square, the New York City Council passed a measure last month that will likely force them to work in special zones set up in the pedestrian plaza.
(Editing by Frank McGurty)