Tucson Police: 'prolific' tagger nabbed after months-long investigation
Reporter: Claire Doan
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV): It drains resources from the city, manpower from police and customers from local businesses: the problem of graffiti. Today, police achieved a small victory in the battle against vandalism - with the major arrest of a prolific tagger.
SWAT served a search warrant Thursday morning to a residence at 3745 E. Blacklidge Drive because they believed the suspect was volatile.
Officers then arrested a 19-year-old Eric Bledsoe two counts of Criminal Damage (1 count associated with the etching and 1 count associated with the traditional "tagging"); one count of Unlawful Possession of Marijuana; and one count of Unlawful Possession of Narcotic Paraphernalia. Those are all felony offenses.
His 37-year-old mother, Elizabeth Bledsoe was arrested for one count of Unlawful Possession of Marijuana and one count of Unlawful Possession of Narcotic Paraphernalia, a Class 1 Misdemeanor.
While Tucsonans see graffiti all around town, what they don't see is the man charged with cleaning it up. Marcos Carranza is the city's Senior Street Maintenance Worker.
"How frustrating is it for you to cover an area and see it tagged again maybe days later?" asked Reporter Claire Doan.
"What happens is that we'll cover it up and by the following Monday, it's all tagged up again," Carranza said. However, his job may be a bit easier, with the arrest of a tagger whom police believe was prolific, vandalizing more than 100 spots in the last 8 months. How are investigators sure?
"There was evidence that he had extended his graffiti activities into his home. Literally, the insides of his closets had graffiti all over them - the walls and pretty much every surface you could think of in the house had graffiti in them," said Sgt. Maria Hawke, spokesperson for the Tucson Police Department.
Hawke said although the graffiti is likely not gang-related, he could be part of a tagging crew that was competing with other crews in the form of graffiti.
"We do caution people to realize that people committing these acts aren't just school-age children with crayons and sidewalk chalk. They are literally adults who are out there committing acts of vandalism," Hawke said.
A phone application called "MyTucson" allows citizens to report tagging directly to Tucson Police, allowing the citizen to indicate where the graffiti is, whether it is offensive and to upload the pictures directly.
In the first five weeks of 2012 alone, crews had to clean more than 5,000 spots with graffiti.