Writing’s on the wall in graffiti cases

More than a 100 charges have been laid against aCalgaryman accused of dozens of graffiti incidents and police say it’s only a matter of time before others are nabbed.

A two-month investigation led to the arrest of the 18-year-old in southwestCalgaryWednesday.

He cannot be identified because he was underage at the time of the incidents.

Police suspect the man is the vandal behind more than 45 separate graffiti displays, primarily in the downtown core and southCalgary, that caused about $30,000 in damage.

“He’s definitely one of the more active ones in the city,” said Const. Dave Ladic, graffiti co-ordinator withCalgarypolice.

Ladic said a previous mischief charge meant the accused was not to have any graffiti paraphernalia.

About half of the charges laid this week relate to breaches of that condition.

Graffiti vandalism, said Ladic, has an impact on the perceived safety of communities and can also encourage the culprits to escalate to worse offences.

“It definitely leads into further action because if you can get away with minor incidents, as (graffiti) is often perceived as minor, you’re going to continue down this path and possibly escalate,” he said.

He said that may have been the case with this particular young man, who allegedly tagged a strip mall-style warehouse space in the Foothill Industrial area — damage that was expected to cost between $10,000 and $15,000 to clean up.

Ladic hopes the charges send a message toCalgary’s other vandals, including the 60 who are considered active in the city.

Last year, police received more than 9,000 complaints of graffiti, he said.

“These people need to understand that what they do will eventually catch up with them,” said Ladic.

“Any time evidence is left, it makes it easy.”

The 18-year-old man is charged with one count of mischief over $5,000, 46 counts of mischief under $5,000, 48 counts of breach of a recognizance, six counts of breach of probation order and one count of possession of marijuana.

Graffiti vandalism is punishable under either the Criminal Code or the community standards bylaw.

Punishments can range from fines of $1,000 for youth offenders and $5,000 for adult offenders to jail time and possible restitution paid to the victim.

The CalgarySun
Fri Feb 3 2012
Page: 7
Section: News
Byline: JENNA MCMURRAY,CALGARY SUN

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