Downtown business owners fed up with vandalism
Vandalism is a growing problem in downtown Las Vegas, and some local business owners blame First Friday.Photo: Video by ktnv.com
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- Downtown Las Vegas business owners said they are fed up with graffiti vandalism, which they call a growing problem.
"It's a monthly affair," said business owner Rich Attisani.
The graffiti paints a different picture of downtown, the same area the city has worked to revitalize and lure back shops.
Attisani runs A-1 Office Machine Company on Commerce Street near Charleston Boulevard. He said the graffiti has become a reoccuring problem, dating back about a year. By Tuesday, the spray paint was removed off the windows at the store but still covered some walls and a door.
"It affects my business so much," Attisani said. "I have to take time out of my day to get this all fixed up."
It costs money, too. The business owner estimates it could cost up to $1,500 each month in repairs. Attisani said he generally notices the problem on Monday mornings after the First Friday art and music festival downtown, but he cannot say for sure if event visitors are responsible for the graffiti.
"It's slowly nickle-and-diming me to death," Attisani said.
Neighboring business owner Anthony Alegrente said he gave permission to artists to paint a mural on the side of his building, which has a gym inside; still, Alegrente said he's concerned about graffiti that popped up in the windows on his building.
"You have people who come and start graffiting and tagging up buildings that isn't artistic, and it brings a bad name to the people that are doing this kind of stuff," Alegrente said.
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Det. Scott Black told Action News graffiti complaints from the downtown area jumped about 15-percent last year, though the reason is unclear. Black reviewed the graffiti at Attisani's business and believes it was the work of taggers, or vandals who paint drawings or their initials.
The detective, who specializes in graffiti investigations, said large murals painted downtown are not considered graffiti because they were created with permission of the property owner.
"The difference between graffiti and art is permission," Black said.
Black said other downtown businesses have also complained about graffiti after First Friday events.
"On the night of First Friday and the days immediately after, they are seeing a tremendous increase in graffiti to their businesses and surrounding area," said Black.
Action News reached out to the organizers of First Friday; they sent a statement that read, in part, "We are saddened to hear that these activities are taking place and that the timing is such that it relates to the event."
It's unclear exactly who is responsible for the graffiti at Attisani's business.
Metro Police made approximately 440 graffiti-related arrests in their jurisdiction in 2012, Black said. Police said most graffiti crimes are misdemeanors, but some can be felonies depending on the scope of the damage. The clean up bill for graffiti totals roughly $30 million a year in southern Nevada, Black said.
"I don't know how the city would control it but something needs to be done," Attisani said.
Black said police plan to work with downtown businesses to put an end to the vandalism.