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“Tagger Tagged!”

May 19, 2009

For more information contact:

Charles Karlewicz, Commander, Renton Police Department 425-430-7640
Preeti Shridhar, Communications Director 425-430-6569

Witness Gets $300 Reward for Helping Police Crack Down on Graffiti Vandals

Another case has offenders paying damages, volunteering for community service 


RENTON, WA:  Thanks to a call from a witness, Renton Police recently caught and arrested one adult and one teen who were in the process of tagging a light pole in Renton. The witness called 9-1-1 while the graffiti vandalism was in progress, and police officers arrived on the scene and discovered two vandals in the act of tagging the light pole. Both suspects were arrested due to the quick actions of the witness, who also identified the suspects and provided a written statement. The witness is now eligible for a $300 reward from the City of Renton.  
 
“I want to personally thank the witness for calling 9-1-1 and taking action to reduce graffiti in our city,” said Mayor Denis Law. “We cannot ignore the vandalism of our neighborhoods and if you’re caught vandalizing our neighborhoods with graffiti, you will be held accountable.  However, we need the public’s help in reporting these offenders. If you see graffiti in action, please call 9-1-1 immediately so that our police officers can stop them in their tracks.”

On another occasion, Renton Police recently caught a couple of young adults in connection with graffiti incidents near Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park. Following up on a report by the City of Renton Parks Division, Detective Christine Paget of the Renton Police Department was able to trace and identify the offenders who had painted graffiti with black spray paint. In order to avoid arrest and a criminal history, the family of the offenders took responsibility and agreed to pay for the cost of cleaning and removing the graffiti. Under the terms of the agreement, the offenders also admitted to committing the graffiti offenses, agreed to dedicate time for community service to the city, and also agreed to work at home to pay back the family for the amount paid to the city as penalty.

As they confessed to the offenses, the taggers stated that they had learned their lesson and will never do anything like this again. Initially they had thought it was fun but they never thought they would get caught.

“With the city’s new ordinance and with our ongoing efforts to investigate instances of graffiti, our goal is to send a clear message to graffiti vandals that if they continue tagging, they will be caught,” said Commander Chad Karlewicz.

The parent of the tagger said, “Our kids don’t realize that tagging and graffiti is not an art form that is acceptable in public spaces and on private property, and is indeed a crime that hurts the community and costs taxpayers millions of dollars a year.  Kids and parents need to recognize that graffiti is being dealt with very seriously in our community, which can bring serious repercussions to offenders."

The City of Renton recently launched an aggressive campaign against graffiti including a new Graffiti Control Ordinance that went into effect in January 2009. The ordinance helps prosecute graffiti offenders and reduce the damages inflicted on property owners. It makes it illegal to possess graffiti paraphernalia; allows the court to order offenders to pay damages; allows public funds to be used for graffiti removal; allows the city to assign up to a $5,000 liability to the parent of a minor who commits graffiti vandalism; and authorizes the city to offer up to a $300 reward for information leading to the identification and apprehension of any person who commits graffiti vandalism.

The city has also hired a part-time graffiti abatement coordinator, has installed cameras in hot spots throughout the city to help identify and prosecute vandals, and has partnered with local businesses and the community to launch a comprehensive education campaign. Wipe Out Graffiti, the city’s campaign against graffiti, encourages people to report graffiti by calling the graffiti hotline, 425-430-7373, or 9-1-1 if they see “tagging” in progress. 

“I applaud the family for taking responsibility for their actions, understanding the impacts of graffiti and making amends,” said Mayor Denis Law.  “I’m very pleased that the hard work of our police officers, staff, and the support of our community is starting to make a real difference.”

To volunteer or participate in the city’s program please call 425-430-7362. For more information, visit the city’s website at  wipeoutgraffiti.rentonwa.gov.