Police have arrested a 17-year-old suspected of spray-painting graffiti over prehistoric artwork at the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.
The teen, known by the nickname “Pee Wee,” was arrested Wednesday evening, said Detective Scott Black of the Graffiti Investigations Detail.
Because of his age, Pee Wee was charged as a juvenile under the state’s anti-graffiti law.
Police believe he is a member of the NHC tagging crew, vandals who paint graffiti together around Southern Nevada. NHC has several meanings, including Nasty Habits Crew, police said.
The graffiti at Red Rock Canyon was discovered by hikers in mid-November. It included the street names “PWE,” “RODO” and “64C.”
The defaced rock art panels on Aztec sandstone slabs and walls contain pictographs, or painted symbols, the Bureau of Land Management estimates are 1,000 years old. One slab has a petroglyph, or stone etching, that might be older.
Pee Wee also might be charged under the federal Archaeological Resources Protection Act. That felony carries a penalty of up to $100,000 and five years in prison.
BLM officials said the cost of restoring the site will be at least $10,000. The agency already has received pledged donations to cover the cost.
The Friends of Red Rock Canyon and the Conservation Lands Foundation have offered a $2,500 reward for information that leads to a conviction. Information about making donations for a reward or for the restoration effort can be found at friendsofredrockcanyon.org.
Contact reporter Brian Haynes at email@example.com or 702-383-0281.