City places bounty on vandals’ heads

Witnesses or those with knowledge of a graffiti perpetrator can receive up to $250 in reward money if the information leads to an arrest and conviction under a city initiative launched Friday.

Rewards funding comes from fines paid by previous graffiti offenders, according to Department of Public Works Deputy Director Mohammed Nuru.

A 2001 civil grand jury report estimated the total cost of damage and removal of graffiti to The City was $22 million. Last year 30,000 locations and 800,000 square feet of surfaces were cleaned at a cost of $3.2 million, according to the Mayor’s Office.

The Department of Public Works began citing private property owners in 2004 if they did not clean up graffiti within 30 days. After that time, they would receive a minimum fine of $500, and officials have credited that with helping to raise awareness about graffiti’s harm.

In 2006, police arrested 139 graffiti vandals, but that jumped to 238 last year, according to the Mayor’s Office.

Officer Christopher Putz of the police graffiti abatement unit said that leap was due in large part to Muni operators stepping up and reporting offenders.

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