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Reduce Graffiti Tagging and Defacement

by Mimi Sawyer
The Challenge

Graffiti tagging is a crime that broadcasts gang-related turf wars, drug activity, and hate. Not only is it ugly, graffiti vandalism is costly. Businesses, schools, individuals, and The United States spends about $15 billion annually cleaning up graffiti, according to the Department of Justice. Furthermore, neighborhoods marked with graffiti tagging are also prone to other forms of crime and delinquency because graffiti promotes the idea that no one cares.

Graffiti's visual pollution jeopardizes the quality of life in our communities. Tagging reduces property values by 15% according to the author of Defacing America, the Rise of Graffiti Vandalism), causes businesses to lose their customers as they become too fearful to shop in the area, and increases gang activity as the neighborhood decays.

Overworked police departments don't always have the resources available to pursue all defacement complaints. They need your help to combat the problem. Tagging removed within 48 hours can result in nearly a zero rate of vandals repeating the defacement. The faster you remove the graffiti, the faster the tagging problem diminishes because you prevent the defacement from becoming a status symbol among the gangs and taggers.

Take a stand against graffiti and show vandals that their actions will not be tolerated.

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Graffiti Abatement via Education

  • Encourage teachers at your child's school to incorporate the Graffiti Hurts curriculum supplement into their lessons.
  • If your city doesn't enforce a strict anti-graffiti ordinance, write a letter to the editor to your local newspaper to help get the problem of graffiti tagging and defacement into the spotlight.
  • Print out copies of Graffiti Prevention Tips for Businesses and give them to owners of establishments on which you notice graffiti.

Graffiti Clean-Up

  • Participate in a local, city-sponsored graffiti clean-up event in your area. Many cities, such as Phoenix, Arizona, host graffiti clean-up days and offer free anti-graffiti clean-up kits including paint and supplies. If your city doesn’t have such an event, write a letter to your local mayor suggesting one.
  • If graffiti taggers have vandalized your property, you'll want to remove the graffiti immediately. Depending on the surface, one of the four basic methods of removing graffiti should work: painting over it, chemical-based cleaners, water-blasting and sandblasting.
  • Join or start an Adopt-a-Block program to help keep targeted areas graffiti-free on a regular basis. Adopt-a-Block programs allow prompt clean-up of graffiti because the necessary consent forms and supplies are ready to go, and the quick action deters violators from defacing again.

Law Enforcement

  • If you see someone tagging a wall, never confront the perpetrator. They may be armed and dangerous. Instead, call 911 to report an accurate description of the perpetrators, the graffiti defacement, and details on their vehicle including a license plate number. Your community may even offer a reward for any reported graffiti defacement that leads to an arrest.
  • Nearly every city and county offers a special graffiti reporting hotline and many offer a graffiti removal request-form on their web site. If not, report all graffiti defacement to your city's police department.

More information on graffiti abatement is available from No Graffiti, Graffiti Hurts, and Keep America Beautiful.

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