By JOHN MARZULLI DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Saturday, January 15th 2000, 2:11AM
When a Queens teenager was caught scrawling his tag, “ACE,” on a subway car, cops didn’t realize that he was carrying some of his greatest hits with him – right on videotape.
Alex Torres, 16, was armed with black shoe polish and a camcorder when transit cops nabbed him Thursday night tagging a No. 7 train in Queens, police said.
Inside was a tape documenting 21 incidents of vandalism committed by Torres and at least three other youths, including one in which Torres tagged a sleeping straphanger’s head, cops said.
The tape depicts the teens scratching their tags – a particularly troublesome form of vandalism known as scratchiti – on subway windows and private cars.
Torres, of 980 Manhattan Ave., Brooklyn, was taped tagging an unsuspecting cabbie’s headrest, mailboxes, a private house and a lamppost. In another scene, a youth throws a brick at a moving car.
“They actually tag the hat of an individual who is asleep,” said Lt. Steve Mona of the transit police vandal squad. Mona added that “trophy” videotapes are not new.
“The kids know the Transit Authority takes these trains out of service to clean them,” he said. “There are companies that market these tapes to memorialize what they do. It’s like submitting a tape to ‘America’s Funniest [Home] Videos,’ and they sell these tapes back to kids.”
The professional graffiti videotapes are typically sold in hip-hop clothing stores with the vandals’ faces digitally blurred.
Torres’ amateur video helped identify him as one of the suspects who eluded cops Sunday after trashing an F train in Queens.
Torres’ mother, who refused to give her name, acknowledged her son “has a problem.” The youth, who attends William Bryant High School in Queens, was charged with criminal mischief.
His arrest was one of eight made by the NYPD’s Operation Redbird, named for the red No. 7 train cars.
“We’ve had a lot of problems with the rear cars on the No. 7 line being horrifically damaged,” said Mona.
The Daily News revealed this week that the TA plans to launch a zero-tolerance policy on scratchiti, beginning this summer when its new trains hit the tracks.
Torres was observed writing his tag, “ACE,” on the train with black shoe polish Thursday night by Officers James Bogliole and Robert Crozier, cops said.”