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Prevention Tips

Graffiti Vandalism

Graffiti is not simply a maintenance problem, but a complex social problem as well. Graffiti vandalism is mainly caused by minors in the late-night or early morning hours. Some is the product of gang activity, and is used to identify territories, indicate associations or conflicts between gang members, or promote the sale of illegal drugs. The vast majority of the increase in graffiti vandalism is the result of "tagging," which is committed by juveniles with the primary objective being peer recognition. Taggers are not necessarily gang members, and come from all neighborhoods of the city.

The City of San Diego Graffiti Control Program provides more information on what you can do to prevent graffiti vandalism.

Responsibility of Stores

The following procedures are suggested to store managers to help combat this problem:

  • Educate your staff in the state and local laws banning the sale of spray paint to minors and of the penalties for illegal sales to minors.
  • Alert them to possible shoplifting by minors of spray paint, markers, and etching tools, and protect these items from theft.
  • Post signs at the paint display area stating the penalties for graffiti vandalism.
  • Post signs in the checkout area listing acceptable proof-of-age for all spray paint purchasers.
  • Display spray paint cans and other potential tools (indelible markers, etc.) in clear view of store personnel.

What You Can Do to Stop Graffiti Vandalism

  • Call the SDPD at (619) 531-2000 or (858) 484-3154 to report all instances of graffiti vandalism.
  • Remove any graffiti on your property immediately, but take pictures of it first.
  • Make sure your child is not a graffiti vandal.
  • Assist your neighbors in graffiti removal.
  • Call the SDPD to report anyone you know who is a graffiti vandal.

How to Remove Graffiti

  • Use matching paint so you don’t leave a “canvas” for more graffiti.
  • Keep a supply of paint readily available.
  • Use MEK (Methyl Ethyl Ketone) on glass or previously painted metal surfaces.
  • Use other graffiti removal products on glass, unpainted metal surfaces, and brick and block walls. First scrub with soap and water and always wear rubber gloves.)

How to Facilitate Graffiti Removal

  • Use Vandlguard TEN non-sacrificial anti-graffiti coating with a three-coat system by RainGuard International or the equivalent on surfaces that might be vandalized. These products are specified by San Diego Park and Recreation Dept. for use on park furnishings and buildings.

How to Spot a Tagger

  • Paint or marker dye stains on hands, under fingernails, clothes, or shoes.
  • Bulky military jacket, pull-over, zip-up with a hood, or other baggy clothes with deep pockets to conceal paint cans and markers.
  • A backpack to hide spray cans.
  • Blood-shot eyes from being out at night tagging and being exposed to dangerous toxic fumes.
  • Tag names written on the underside of the bill of a sports cap, visor, or on notebooks and other possessions.

What to Do If You See Graffiti Vandalism in Process

  • DO NOT approach or attempt to apprehend the vandal.
  • Get a good description of the vandal(s) and their vehicle(s).
  • Call 911 to report vandalism is in process.