Law and Residents Must Partner to Tackle Graffiti Problem

Thursday, July 5, 2012 - 12:10pm

It takes just minutes. They strike when no one is around, when no one can see who's holding the can, but ironically, it's all about being known.

"It's a matter of identity, it's really what it is, they want to identify themselves, they want to identify their area," says Brownsville Police Officer, J.J. Trevino.

Just about every single area in Brownsville is hit with graffiti, some heavier hit than others… business buildings, cars, homes, fences...authorities say those vandalizing represent a number of groups and tag for a number of reasons.

"Kids being kids, street gangs that want to mark their territory, that kind of stuff. It's a little bit of everything that goes on throughout the city," says Trevino.

Not only does the graffiti cause an eye sore it often stigmatizes what may normally be a quiet neighborhood.

"It gives it a really bad sense of security for anyone that goes into a neighborhood and sees all these markings," says Trevino.

Trevino however, adds some reports indicate crime tends to increase in areas where heavy tagging takes place.

While you may think that nothing is being done and the problem is only getting worse, there are actually efforts in place.

"There are officers that go out there and take pictures of all these tagging; there's a couple of officers actually, and they keep a file to make sure there's no new information, no news tags, no new gangs," says Trevino.

While the information gathered might not immediately lead to an arrest, it provides intel for future cases that come up and when an arrest or detention is warranted, the offender is held accountable.

"(We’re) Working in conjunction with juvenile probation and the municipal court. Now they have the offenders actually do community service and go out there and paint these markings," says Trevino.

Police say this type of crime is one that's difficult to catch in the act so being proactive when it comes to fighting graffiti is a team effort between police and the community.

"More than anything, the way it's investigated is with either information that we receive from sources or tipsters that call Crime Stoppers," says Trevino.

If officers see an area being hit hard, or increased activity, they'll keep a tighter patrol on that area to act as a deterrent for vandals.

While some vandals say graffiti or tagging is a victimless crime, authorities disagree. They say the victims are the homeowners, the business owners, anyone who owns the piece of property that has been marked.

"Unfortunately as a homeowner, the only thing that you can really do is report it every time, more than anything else, and at that same token try to keep painting over it until they finally stop," says Trevino.

It takes perseverance, but Trevino says they will eventually stop.

"if you don't want to see your area marked up and you know somebody that's actually doing it, then you need to do something about it, report it, more than anything report it," stresses Trevino.

If you’re a victim of graffiti to your property contact the Brownsville Police Department directly to file a report, if you see something suspicious, you can contact Crime Stoppers anonymously at 546-TIPS.

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