Graffiti popping up around the Sparks and Spanish Springs areas is not new, but the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO) is developing a plan to combat the problem.
Katie Stueve, a member of the Graffiti Task Force, recently discussed the matter with the Spanish Springs Citizens Advisory Board, in order to educate them about the problem.
“If you see it, report it,” Stueve said.
What residents are seeing now around the area is “tagging graffiti,” she said. This is different from graffiti drawn by gang members to mark their territory.
“Tagging graffiti is out there for the fame,” she said.
An increase in tagging throughout the county has caused many residents to take notice and the WCSO is revamping its task force to catch and prosecute as many taggers as possible. Taggers usually attempt to gain status by spraying graffiti in as many places as possible and paint pieces that are highly stylized murals.
The task force plans to increase prosecution of the crime, which includes help from homeowners whose property gets damaged as a result of the incidents, Stueve said. The ultimate goal of the task force is to remove the tagging within 72 hours of its painting, she added.
At one point, with the help of the community, the task force rounded up 56 volunteers to help with clean up. The Nevada Department of Transportation and Lowe’s donated paint to help disguise the markings, Stueve said. In all, 300 sites were cleaned up.
Homeowners are given the choice to have graffiti removed by the task force, however, if they choose not to, they have 10 days to clean up the markings themselves, Stueve said.
If the damages are reported to the task force, Stueve said it is important for homeowners to take photos and report how much it costs to remove the markings. That way, when the taggers are caught, the crime can be adjusted to fit the level of damage. For instance, the crime can be moved to a higher level if the tagger is caught and prosecuted, Stueve said.
To report learn steps on reporting graffiti in Washoe County, visit www.washoesheriff.com/graffiti.htm.
Law enforcement officials say that graffiti sends the message that the area is unsafe and can cause concern for the personal safety of members of the community. Also, it invites more littering, loitering and even more graffiti. Property sales slow and property values decline due to the fact that many areas filled with graffiti are simply unappealing.
To report tagging in progress, call 785-4629.