There are few crimes against property that generate the anger, frustration and fear that graffiti vandalism does. Both the victims and their neighbors are outraged at the violation of property and by the image of vandals and gangs roaming the neighborhood. Duluth has been somewhat immune from a trend that has troubled so many cities nationwide, however from time to time we notice an increase in graffiti. Like many of our crimes, the increase is often perpetrated by one or two individuals.
Often citizens don’t realize the amount of time police spend investigating non-glamorous crimes such as graffiti. Our officers arrest individuals for this crime frequently. Some time ago department staff conducted a quick review of a few juveniles charged and sentenced for vandalizing property with graffiti. A juvenile who we determined was a major graffiti vandal was caught after painting up a Piedmont area. He received six months of probation after defacing a felony amount of public property (to the cost of thousands of dollars) and ordered to pay restitution. Another was apprehended after spray painting downtown; he received a sentence of probation until he is 18 and ordered to pay restitution. A third graffiti vandal was caught a second time only two weeks after being in court for doing the same thing. What is the answer to deal with the issue? Well, in an effort to improve deal with repeat property crime offenders we have been working closely with probation and others in the criminal justice system to find grants to expand gps monitoring of non-violent offenders. GPS needs to be expanded in the use of offender monitoring; we will continue to collaborate with our partners to find funding for this important criminal justice tool.
We continue to investigate and apprehend those responsible for graffiti vandalism. The vandals have cost private and public property owners tens of thousands of dollars. Our officers investigating these cases are photographing and documenting the damage done. When we apprehend vandals we aggressively seek full prosecution and strong sentences for each and every act. In addition we encourage victims and neighborhood groups to become involved in the legal process to ensure their voices are heard and the vandals are held fully accountable for the damage they have done. Involvement in the process beyond arrests has worked very well in Lincoln Park where a dedicated group of citizens works tirelessly to ensure those causing problems are held accountable.
When graffiti occurs on your property you are required by City ordinance to remove it in a reasonable time frame. This ordinance is designed to help keep our neighborhoods free from blight. You can also help by calling 911 immediately when you see suspicious activity or reporting those responsible for vandalism to us.