Getting a grip on graffiti!

Reporter: Steve Nuñez

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Graffiti! It's everywhere. And, it's gotten so bad, 9 On Your Side viewers emailed and called to tell us they are growing mad. So, they've asked us to find out what exactly is the city doing or can do to stop this ugly problem that's giving our city a black eye.
 
Tucson Police estimate vandals tag signs, poles, walls and businesses more than 4,000 times per month.

  • Graffiti! It's everywhere. And, it's gotten so bad, 9 On Your Side viewers emailed and called to tell us they are growing mad and contacted 9 On Your Side looking for answers.

  • What is the city doing to stop this ugly problem that's giving our city a black eye?

  • Recently, we introduced you to Santos Alvarez, a volunteer, who covers up graffiti throughout Midvale Park. Alvarez told 9 On Your Side he's beyond fed up. He's angry. Alvarez wants the city to take extreme bold action against the taggers.

  • 9 On Your Side asked Santos: What kind of punishment would you like the taggers to get? "Well, you know, stop some benefit," said Alvarez. "Some may be on welfare you know."
    Cut off their welfare? While only the federal government can do that, Alvarez's point was well taken.

  • Steve Nuñez asked Regina Romero: Are you just as concerned as Santos that there are 1,300 homes within Midvale Park, all of those residents and Alvarez is the only one who's going out there and cleaning up that graffiti?
    "Right, you know I think Santos is a super hero," said Romero. "We can ask people to help but we can't make them."

  • As 9 On Your Side learned, one week after the graffiti had been painted over, the taggers returned with a vengeance.

  • Police now stack charges against taggers so prosecutors can then up the charges from a misdemeanor to a felony.

  • City leaders are relying on police and city prosecutors to get the word out on the streets: commit the crime, pay the time.

  • When asked, city leader Regina Romero said, "I know that there's been some effort to do prevention but not as focused as I would like to see with it and to tell you the truth because I think we are overwhelmed, I think the Tucson police dept is very specific to finding the criminals."

  • Tucson Police estimate vandals tag signs, poles, walls and businesses more than 4,000 times per month.

  • According to police, most taggers are 18 and older and can legally buy spray paint. That's why targeting paint stores would not be as effective as punishing repeat taggers with a 90-day jail sentence.

  • City leaders hope the recent conviction of 19-year old Cody Bledsoe, who is now serving a 90-day jail sentence, will send a message that deters taggers.