South City police arrest alleged teen vandal

Police apprehended a 13-year-old boy recently for allegedly tagging condos in the Westborough neighborhood more than 10 times, the 13th arrest of graffiti artists in the city since late last year.

The boy admitted to repeatedly tagging the building on the 3700 block of Fairfax Way as well as spray-painting graffiti on other buildings in the neighborhood, according to  Sgt. Joni Lee.

Lee said the police are seeing a recent upsurge in graffiti throughout the city.

Police said they have received reports of approximately 600 cases of graffiti since Oct. 1, including gang-related graffiti and individual tags not affiliated with gang activity.

Officer Rebecca Voetsch said she was able to track down the juvenile, who lives in the same complex on Fairfax Way, after receiving tips from a maintenance worker, who told police that he was “fed up” with cleaning the graffiti.

The boy was easy to find because he spray-painted “bicks one” and “socks” on the door of his own apartment and on the apartment door of his grandfather, who lives in the complex as well, Voetsch said.

Police said the tags are the boy’s personal signatures and are not affiliated with any gangs.

Police said they found notebooks belonging to the boy Tuesday with the same tags in the boy’s bedroom. They estimated the boy’s vandalism cost $600 each time he tagged the building.

Although the boy’s tags were not gang-related, Lee attributed the latest upsurge in graffiti in South City to the increased gang activity in the area.

“We are seeing an upsurge in gangs, so we’re seeing an upsurge in gang graffiti,” she said. “It’s a blightto the community, it looks awful and the city has to spend money to clean it up.”

The city gives the property owners whose buildings are vandalized 48 hours to clean them up. After the deadline, Public Works employees clean the vandalism free of charge.

“We don’t want the gang graffiti to be seen, so we want to remove it quickly,” explained Lee.

The police referred the boy’s felony vandalism charges to the juvenile court.

According to the Department of Motor Vehicles, California law allows the courts to punish graffiti artists by suspending their driver’s license for up to two years.

Convicted youths who don’t have a license may get it delayed for up to three years once they are eligible to drive.

svasilyuk@examiner.com

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