SPARKS, NV - Tag, you're it, but it's not fun and games when it happens to your property. It's been a growing problem in our area--graffiti--and now it's happening on cars.
Several Sparks neighborhoods have been tagged with symbols relating to the number 14, and according to local authorities, it's gang-related.
The most recent rash of tagging happened Sunday night, right before midnight on 13th Street and 15th Street, just a few blocks from Sparks High School.
What's unusual about this tagging is the symbols, which now have a deeper meaning.
"I was shocked. I couldn't believe that my car had been spray painted," Amanda Marvel, a Sparks resident, said.
That's what she found outside her sister-in-law's home after a house-warming party Sunday night.
"After the shock wore off, then I was angry because we didn't see it happen so we didn't know who to report," Marvel said. "I didn't know how i was going to clean it off; I didn't know what to do, so i was just frustrated."
It was a nasty welcome to a new neighborhood, but Marvel wasn't the only target that night.
"In the morning when I woke up, my dad comes in and says, 'who has a vendetta against you?' and I was like 'great,' I knew what he was talking about; I knew I had been tagged," Daniel Harrison, a Sparks resident, said.
Both cars had been tagged with related symbols--the letter "N," the 14th letter in the alphabet and the Roman numeral 14, "XIV."
Sergeant Palmer from the Regional Gang Unit says it's related to a Hispanic gang called the Nortenos, rooted in northern California. He says they've been in northern Nevada for the past 10 years.
"They also told me that several other places in this neighborhood had been tagged the same night," Marvel said.
It's not just the Sparks neighborhood that has been affected; residents in Gold Ranch and parts of Reno have also seen similar graffiti marks, and it isn't cheap to clean.
"You take it to a car detailing place and you've got to do the labor plus what ever they charge to do that; it probably would have cost a lot," Marvel said. "I'm lucky I knew somebody who knew how to clean it off."
"I think it means that there are some kids out there that are very bored," Harrison said.
"It's really unfortunate because, no, I don't feel as safe and I don't think I'll drive my car to visit my sister-in-law again," Marvel added.
The Regional Gang Unit recommends that you call your respective police agency if you see any of this tagging in your neighborhood.
Once a report is made, the RGU will start to identify Norteno gang members it has documented living in the area.