Reno, NV (KRNV & MyNews4.com)- There’s a line between art and vandalism, and to Lieutenant Scott Dugan, street tagging is not art.
Dugan oversees the Regional Gang Unit, which closed a large graffiti investigation this week after two juveniles were arrested and charged for 106 graffiti tags in Washoe County this year alone. The damages they caused resulted in close to $13,000 in clean-up alone.
This graffiti bust resulted from a stop last week when an officer stopped two teens with $400 worth of stolen spray paint on them. After the week-long investigation, the two juveniles confessed to their crimes.
Police say these two teens are the most prolific taggers in the area, and hope it will help decrease graffiti in the county.
“The clearest difference is those that are doing art have permission to do it where they're doing it, and the people who are out there putting up these destructive tags are doing just that. They’re being destructive to property. It’s vandalism,” says Dugan.
Dugan says the pair's work is some of the most prolific at the moment, and police are hopeful the arrests will decrease vandalism in the county, but says, problematic graffiti vandals pop up in cycles.
“For us to be effective in arresting those causing graffiti we need to know immediately,” says Dugan. “So we ask those who are witnessing the crimes in progress to call 911.”
A new City of Reno app can be used to report unwanted tags, which alerts the graffiti task force.
Dugan says it’s important to report and record these tags because the damages cost more than just clean up.
“The economic impact extends beyond that when businesses come into our community,” says Dugan. “They want to set up shop, and they see that graffiti. It’s going to deter them from wanting to put a business in a certain area because there's an appearance of crime in the neighborhood.”
To date, the city has spent more than $800,000 on graffiti prevention, recording, and abatement, and that doesn't extend to other economic costs associated with this type of vandalism.