Often the First Sign of Trouble
 

GraffitiMany youth gangs use graffiti to mark territory, send messages and intimidate rival gangs and community residents. But graffiti is not just the work of gang members. "Taggers" are young people who are not necessarily gang affiliated, but still engage in graffiti vandalism. They are seeking recognition from their peers for their daring.

Only 10 percent of graffiti is thought to be gang-related; the remaining 90 percent is done by taggers. Most graffiti vandals are between the ages of 14 and 17, but some are younger. They often tote backpacks in which they carry the tools of their trade – spray paint, paint sticks and etching equipment.

Whether done by gang members or taggers, the presence of graffiti in a neighborhood can increase residents' fears about their safety and even reduce property values. Its presence can also signify to criminals that residents don't care about their neighborhood. It costs communities thousands of dollars in removal and clean-up.

What You Can DoGraffiti
 

Report all graffiti vandalism to law enforcement. Before you remove graffiti, notify the police department, by calling (904) 630-0500, so they can document it with photographs. This helps build cases against these vandals. Most taggers sign their work in the same way and often target the same area.

If graffiti is on your property remove it immediately. If it is on county or state property, law enforcement should be able to help you contact the owners.

Landscaping is an attractive, natural deterrent to graffiti activity. If an area is continually hit by graffiti, consider planting the area in a way that discourages access.

Clean-up often has to be done again and again, but patience and persistence pay off. If any area you have cleaned up becomes covered in graffiti again, remove it as quickly as possible. The goal is to deny the vandal the chance to display his work.

To report graffiti please call (904) 630-0500.