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Behind the Badge: Graffiti Detectives

News

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Utah) They’re trying to track down all the people behind the paint. In this week’s Behind the Badge report – we catch up with a couple of detectives who investigate graffiti crimes.

“You’ve got the Y, A, the W closer here…” You can learn a lot by listening to West Valley City Police Detective Scott Arnold. “Just like any body’s hand writing or signature – everyone has distinguishable things that create their name their signature.” “Sometimes people look at this and it looks like a big mix of lines and colors. I guess I can see where the colors and lines blend together to make letters, symbols and signs that form the moniker.” His partner – Detective Mike Lynes – knows a thing or two about graffiti as well. “We were just getting hammered with graffiti and it was costing a lot of money to clean up…so, we started focusing on it as one of our primary things.”

Arnold and Lynes are part of the Community Response Unit. The last few years they’ve been responding to a lot of graffiti and tagging like this. And they’re quick to point out – cleaning up graffiti is costly – especially for businesses. Detective Lynes: “They’re struggling to survive and now they have $7,000 in damage to a work truck. They don’t have that kind of money.” The detectives say the problem is so wide spread – it costs Utah tax payers hundreds of thousands of dollars every year.

They say while gang tagging hasn’t really gone down – through good police work – they are making a difference. Det. Arnold: “With respect to artistic style graffiti we were seeing in West Valley City I think we made a drastic impact. I think we have cut it down by about 90 percent.”

Arnold and Lynes say graffiti crime is not easy to solve – because no one sees it happening. But they believe they can track down almost anyone. Det. Lynes: “Theres someone sitting at home who will watch this and say ‘They haven’t caught me yet.’ Well, just wait. Were going to knock on your door. There’s no doubt about it.”

Lynes and Arnold say they are often impressed by the abilities of some graffiti artists. Det. Lynes: “To be able to do this with a spray paint can its amazing.” But they say the artistic side is outweighed by the problems it causes and the mess it creates. “It’s not about us disliking these people personally. But we have a job. They go out and damage other people’s property.”

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