Taggers leave racist graffiti in Northwest Reno

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RENO, NV (KOLO) - Ugly and racist. Graffiti on several cars in northwest Reno Monday, July 23, 2019 left victims angry and sad.

Some taggers portray themselves as guerrilla artists armed with a spray can, using other people's property as their canvas.

There was no pretense of art here. This was just mean, stupid and racist.

Several cars in a northwest Reno neighborhood spray painted with seemingly random squiggles, a gang name for whatever reason and over and over again a racial epithet.

Some learned they'd been victims when we knocked on their doors. Others discovered it when they stepped outside Monday morning.

"I noticed some flowers blooming yesterday and I wanted to show my children," one woman told us. "So we walk out and I looked across and there was graffiti on my neighbor's van."

It may have been a series of random acts, but the racist content suggested other motives to at least one family of Tongan descent.

"To write those words to us just makes me really mad," said Valeni Vanisis, "because even though we have different skin tones we're people too."

In truth, that feeling of loss and violation of one's safety and place in the community may be the lasting damage here.

The graffiti rendered in the same orange paint, apparently by the same person will be cleaned up, but as much as a victim may want to rid themselves of the insult as soon as possible, investigators say they hope they'll report it first.

"Because we can track it and try to put together a suspect, whether it's happening in one area of town or across town," says Reno Police Lt. Chad Lahren.

And someone, police, the city's graffiti abatement team or the victims should take a picture. Lahren says documentation of these crimes--whether by the victim or authorities--is important.

"There are consistencies in the tagging, whether it's the same name, a certain word, and that's how we are able to put together our cases."

The neighbor who talked with us (but asked not to be identified) was determined.

"We are all people and this should not happen and we won't allow it to happen in our neighborhood. So, whoever did this, we hope you get caught, but we will be watching."

Lahren said any victims of these crimes should called Reno Police dispatch at 334-COPS or they can contact the city's graffiti abatement program at Reno Direct, 334-INFO.

The graffiti abatement team can also help with clean up of graffiti left on buildings and other structures, though cars are more difficult.

Anyone with information which might lead to arrest and prosecution can also call Secret Witness at 322-4900 and remain anonymous.

Copyright KOLO-TV 2019