Caught On Video: Taggers Doing Their Worst

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A quarter to two, Sunday morning, a tagger crew was walking through Idlewild Park, leaving behind them a couple dozen or more examples of their crime.

Given the hour they may have felt they had little to fear.

But in this case there was a witness and he had a video camera. He catches one of them in the act and calls police with descriptions.

Officers were on the scene shortly, pulled over a vehicle with three occupants and arrests one of them, believed to be the one seen in the video tagging a sign.

Twenty seven year old Casey Joe Bull was booked on a single count of graffiti, marking the one street sign caught in the video.

Without video evidence, the other two aren't charged.

Bull, by the way, fits a familiar profile. Though many assume taggers are always juveniles. They are actually often twenty or thirty somethings, adults in age only.

Neighborhood residents and park maintenance people wake up to damage that will take time and money to repair.

Anna O'Brian's lives across from the park. Her RV was tagged. It's the first time she's been a victim of graffiti, but she's suffered other vandalism.

"Living in this neighborhood we seem to be on a path where people are determined to destroy property," she says.

Most of the graffiti was on park property. Signs, buildings, picnic areas, power poles, ball park backstops and the skateboard park were decorated with tags and obscenities.

"We have one maintenance man in Idlewild Park and it took him the better part of two and a half days when he could have been doing other things, to clean up this graffiti," says Parks Maintenance Manager Jeff Mann.

He could have added this is hardly what his meager budget needed.
Mann says last year the parks department spent more on cleaning up graffiti than it did on keeping the grass green and healthy.

The single arrest in this case is a victory in the long war against graffiti, but apparently a rare one.

A few years ago Reno had an anti-graffiti program that was getting national attention. Budget cuts have all but eliminated it.

Graffiti is eventually removed, but without the personnel working full time on it, it remains longer and that attracts more tagging.

Even worse, there are very few arrests like this one because there's no longer a full time investigator assigned to these cases and, we're told, making a case on this misdemeanor crime is difficult without an investigator or a witness.

That's what this videographer provided in this case.

Police, parks, residents and businesses can only hope there are more like him out there because without them taggers apparently will rarely face the consequences.

Ironically, while funding for cleanup and investigation has all but disappeared, money to reward witnesses has remained.

Secret Witness has a special graffiti reward fund, but these days it's rarely tapped.

The witness with the camera in this case will get a reward from that fund, even though the crime fighting organization usually only pays for information gathered directly through their call line.

The Secret Witness number 322-4900 is manned 24 hours a day or tips may be texted at 847-411 Key word S-W.

Callers may remain anonymous while collecting cash rewards.


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