Friday, October 1, 2010

Graffiti arrests highlight growing problem, police say

The word “Zombie” was spray-painted throughout Lynn Ary Park near Foraker Drive, where the four were arrested. The designs are similar to those seen throughout the city, starting about two months ago.
“There was some tagging going on so the officers, as they approached, were seen by the suspects who all ran away into the woods,” said APD spokesperson Lt. Dave Parker. “Ultimately the officers were able to capture all four of the suspects, two of them being adults, two were juveniles.”
Arrested were 20-year-old Aric Hanley-Gurley, 21-year-old Garrett thomas, and two teens -- one a German exchange student.
“Criminal mischief in the third degree is a felony crime,” Parker said. “People don't realize, this is not just some innocent little person out there making mischief -- this is a person who is committing a crime that costs people  a lot of money.”   
It also means some roads, like the Minnesota Drive underpass at Hillcrest Drive, will have to be temporarily closed so graffiti painted there can be erased.
“We definitely need to do that -- there's not enough room for him to pull his truck off the side of the road there under that underpass to do the work,” said Mike Fleagle with the city’s Department of Maintenance and Operations.
And guess who pays for the work? You -- the Anchorage taxpayer.
“It is taxpayers’ money that is being used to clean up after these vandals -- and yes, I will call them vandals,” Fleagle said. “They may call it art, but it’s vandalism to us. There are city ordinances against it, the muni wants to remain graffiti-free; it’s in the ordinance, so it is frustrating.”
The four alleged taggers are charged with criminal mischief in the third degree and resisting arrest.   
Police say graffiti is an under-reported crime, and encourage people to report it on APD’s website. Officials say any graffiti that causes more than $500 in property damage is a felony.


Taken from: Ktuu

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