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The owner of an upmarket New York antiques shop has filed a lawsuit aimed at keeping four down-and-outs at least 100 yards from his emporium, the Daily Telegraph reports. The lawsuit is also claiming $1m a pop from the booze-swilling bums, although this has been included purely for "technical reasons".

According to the court papers, the drunken quartet have spent "significant amounts of time" outside Karl Kemp Antiques on Madison Avenue, "consuming alcoholic beverages from open bottles, performing various bodily functions such as urinating or spitting on the sidewalk".

They have further vebally harassed and intimidated would-be customers while dressed in "old, warn [sic], and unsanitary clothing" and bed down for the night in "cardboard boxes and old blankets which they convert into sleeping accommodations".

Kemp told the Telegraph that the New York Police Department "had not made his complaints to them a priority". As well as applying for the order, he's "also contacted the local merchant association and asked the owner of the building where he rents his space to re-route the heating pipes outside the building so the homeless people can not benefit from their warmth".

Kemp says his actions are primarily out of concern for the homeless foursome, rather than his bank balance. He said of one of the down-and-outs: "My concern is the health of the man. Sometimes he's out there in blizzard conditions, and you and I pay taxes in New York City and some of that is to maintain decent shelters. And he should take advantage of that. It's nothing against him. I want him to be safe and not to be an obstruction to us."

New York's homeless organisations are having none of it. A spokesman for the Coalition for the Homeless slammed the lawsuit as "preposterous". ®

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