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Responsible Retailers Program

Over the past several years, graffiti vandalism has exploded across the San Diego area, costing the City millions of dollars annually. Many individual citizens and community-based groups are working to stop the vandals and repair the damage they are causing. Law enforcement personnel report that many graffiti vandals claim to have stolen or "racked" the paint, markers or etching tools used in their crimes. Vandals also claim that they have no problem buying spray paint from retail stores.

The City's Responsible Retailer Program is a direct and practical response to this dilemma; retailers voluntarily step up employee education and internal security to deprive graffiti vandals of the legitimate products they misuse to commit property crimes. The Responsible Retailer Program is a combination of in-store activities designed to reduce retail theft of potential graffiti tools and stop the illegal sale of spray paint to customers under the age of 18. It includes the training store employees, strategically placing signs at display and check-out points, and displaying of graffiti tools in a prudent manner. Through awareness and strengthened self-policing, San Diego retailers can constrict the flow of products into the hands of those who use them in graffiti crimes. Further, by joining the Responsible Retailer Program, participating retailers can curtail costly theft from their stores while demonstrating an active concern for the problems of the community in which they do business.


There are a number of ways that citizen volunteers can help retailers combat the problem:

  • Help the Graffiti Control Program identify all retailers who sell spray paint, markers, or etching tools so that they may be invited to participate in the Responsible Retailer Project.
  • Distribute written materials detailing the project to appropriate retailers.
  • Personally contacting retailers who have not yet joined, supporting participating retailers with your business dollars, and notifying the City's Police Department of violations of the "no sale to minors" law.

If you would like to volunteer for this project, or need additional information, please call the Graffiti Control Hotline at (619) 525-8522 or send email to