An 18-year-old man who is alleged to have defaced a war memorial is the first person caught by a new graffiti artist investigations team that aims to crack down on vandals.
Police, Calgary Transit and animal and bylaw services announced on Thursday they’ve created a fivemember team, called the joint graffiti investigation team, to bring together graffiti investigators from the three agencies to reduce the crime that costs transit and bylaw $6 million annually to clean up.
The man is charged in 23 graffiti tags, including one at a memorial warship in the 1100 block ofMemorial Drive N.W.which was tagged with a marker between Aug. 21 and Sept. 8.
The team also hopes to identify some of the most prolific vandals and released closed-circuit TV images of them hoping to get public tips on their identity.
The new effort hopes to get investigators working together more closely.
“What we’ve done is put the team under one roof to allow for a lot more interaction . . . more information sharing,” said animal and bylaw services manager Bill Bruce.
Investigators say the 23 instances of graffiti, alleged to have been performed by one person, are considered a low number – some people can commit hundreds of graffiti crimes before being caught.
“They go out and they tag along transit, move off into a community, do 50 to 60 tags, come back onto transit and tag, and come home,” said Supt. Richard Hinse of the Calgary Police Service.
Brian Whitelaw, co-ordinator of public safety and enforcement with Calgary Transit, said the prevalence of graffiti makes riders uncomfortable.
“People choose to ride transit if they feel safe. We know, certainly applying the broken windows theory, that often offences that are often described as low-level types do have a significant impact on community fear,” Whitelaw said.
“What it means to us is more riders feel safe riding transit and don’t have that subliminal message of graffiti behind them all the time.”
The team also launched a new website called graffitifreecalgary.ca to give more information to vandals’ parents and victims about graffiti.
Neil Grinham, 18, faces 23 counts of mischief. He’s alleged to have committed 23 separate offences.
Fri Dec 9 2011
Section: City & Region
Byline: Stephane Massinon