Teenage Taggers Busted After Long Investigation
Suspects believed to be responsible for nearly 400 vandalism incidents meet the end of the road in Santa Clarita.
Deputies from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department - Santa Clarita station teamed up with COBRA detectives to bring down a major tagging crew.
Four Newhall teenagers were taken into custody during a recent operation in which search warrants were served at their homes, capping an 11-month investigation into the acts of vandalism.
During the 11-month period, Detectives had been investigating 377 incidents of tagging or graffiti, which they determined to be related with the help of the City's Graffiti Tracking System. In this case, similarities in style and content led investigators to believe that the markings had been made by the same group of people. The incidents were mostly taking place in the Newhall area, at parks, schools, businesses and trails. Further investigation also led detectives to believe that the crew responsible was new to the area.
Recently, Sheriff's officials received a tip that they say launched the case forward, and led to four search warrants being served in the 25000 block of Chestnut Street, the 25000 block of Hawkbryn Avenue, the 24700 block of Alderbrook Drive, and the 24800 block of Walnut Street, in Newhall.
During the search, deputies reportedly located dozens of pieces of evidence, including pens, markers, paints and books.
According to a Sheriff's report, one 15 year-old suspect is thought to be responsible for 240 of the incidents with total damages estimated at over $100,000. The other three detained teenagers, ages 13 and 14, are suspected of the remaining 137 incidents with damages estimated at over $58,000.
None of the four juveniles had a criminal record; however they could now face felony vandalism, and potentially misdemeanor possession of graffiti tools charges. The suspects were released to their parents after being booked.
Sheriff's officials say that the suspects and their parents might also be held responsible for the costs of the vandalism if convicted.
In recent years the City of Santa Clarita has declared war on graffiti, offering monetary rewards for information leading to convictions and cleaning most vandalized areas within a short time span.
If you know of graffiti within Santa Clarita city limits and would like to fill out a request to have it removed, click here or call (661) 25-CLEAN (252-5326).
To report graffiti within unincorporated Los Angeles County (Castaic, Stevenson Ranch, Val Verde, etc.) call LA County Public Works at (800) 675-4357, or visit www.ladpw.org .
To report graffiti on a freeway sign, sound wall, or overpass call (213) 897-0383 or visit www.dot.ca.gov