"Tagging Crews" brag about graffiti on Facebook

"Tagging Crews" brag about graffiti on Facebook

CREATED Feb 17, 2012

Reporter: Corinne Hautala

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) – The City of Tucson is turning to social media to combat graffiti.  What are being called “Tagging crews” are posting photos of their graffiti on Facebook.

City council member Steve Kozachik admits Tucson has a big graffiti problem, but said the city is working to tackle it.  

“We got a contract with Graffiti Protection Coding,” said Kozachik.  “We're spending over a million dollars a year, right now, just in abatement.”

He said unlike popular belief, the vast majority of the graffiti in Tucson is not from gangs, but from “tagging crews,” which are made up of mostly men between the ages of 18 to 30-years-old.

9OYS found multiple “tagging crews” on Facebook, where the vandals post pictures of their graffiti across town.  One of the photos was someone bragging that their moniker is on graffiti wanted list.

“We know who they are.  We got their monikers,” explained Kozachik.  “When we can put two or three or four of these together and turn a misdemeanor into a felony and it is in front of a judge the judge needs to make it stick and make it hurt.”

Kozachik said the court system is what’s slipping in the fight against graffiti.

9OYS asked Kozachik what he’d like judges to do.

“I'd like them to quit using diversion, so frequently, and start fining them,” he explained. “Start putting them back on the street for restitution, community service and put them in jail when it's a felony.”

A Tucson teen accused of more than 100 tagging incidents is out of jail, a day after his arrest.  Kozachik points to that as an example of how easy judges are letting graffiti vandals off.