Photo by Molly Matalon

Hey, the gutter punks are back in the News today. Still panhandling, still smelling, still shooting up... but this time the focus is on how their habits are driving business away from shopkeepers in the Williamsburg area. One deli owner on Bedford Avenue says not only are they shoplifting, but "people see them and get disgusted, and then people don't bother coming into my store. They could take a nice hot bath. One kid comes in and the whole store will be smelling for hours." Pretty sure the jacuzzi baths at the stalled luxury condos they squat in haven't been installed yet.

Cafes have it a little easier though; Atlas dimmed the lights in their bathrooms to keep junkies out, since it's harder to shoot up with low wattage. WCBS 2 also got on board, talking to one local who declared, "They have been using hard drugs such as heroin in public, and leaving dangerous remnants behind …needles, baggies, things that could seriously harm a child." But one such gutter punk, who prefers to be called a "traveler," told them "I don't do drugs at all, I've never done anything. I smoked weed before; I drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes." Nothing... just drugs, alcohol and nicotine.

Reportedly cops are going to monitor the area and arrest any trespassers. Coming soon: gutter punks invade Greenpoint?