‘Graffiti attracts graffiti’: Vandalism crackdown

A simple tag or two can spiral into a graffiti spree if not abated in a timely fashion.

That’s something Scott Black often advises as a detective in the Metropolitan Police Department’s graffiti investigations section.

“I tell people make sure to clean it up quickly because vandals are going to see it, and they’re also going to put their tag on it,” he said. “It’s very, very common. Graffiti attracts graffiti.”

He said graffiti also spurs other types of crime.

“Graffiti is like a welcome mat to criminals,” he said.

Black said he wrote a revision to the state’s graffiti law to make the punishment tougher for vandals who commit the crime. The revised law became effective Oct. 1, making it an automatic class D felony for any third offense involving graffiti, regardless of the severity of the resulting property damage.

“This is directed at habitual violators,” Black said. “It is without a doubt the toughest graffiti law in America.”

Graffiti is a misdemeanor in Nevada if it results in less than $250 in damage; a gross misdemeanor if the damage totals $250 to $5,000; and a felony when the damage tops $5,000.

Under the enhanced law, violators 18 or older also will have their driver’s license suspended for at least six months, and their graffiti convictions will count for life.

In jurisdictions around the valley, removing graffiti from private commercial or residential property is the owners’ responsibility. Officials said they will work with property owners to address the problem, including contacting them following reports of graffiti incidents from the public.

“The city can contact the owner if it’s private property,” said Margaret Kurtz, city of Las Vegas public information officer. “We can do it ourselves if it’s something we’re allowed to do ourselves.”

The protocol is generally the same in Clark County as far as graffiti at private properties, said Dan Kulin, public information officer for that jurisdiction.

“If things aren’t happening, we can eventually go and clean up a property on our own, and then the owners would reimburse us for that,” he added.

The county’s graffiti abatement program goes so far as to assist with the initial removal of graffiti at private residential properties, and it can provide paint so property owners can cover any subsequent graffiti.

Jurisdictions also can remove graffiti on commercial or residential common walls, such as those that border a public street or are otherwise facing a right-of-way.

City of Las Vegas residents can report graffiti via their mobile devices by visiting m.lasvegasnevada.gov and clicking “report a problem.” They also can visit lasvegasnevada.gov and click “code enforcement” under the list of departments if using a laptop or desktop, or they can call city code enforcement at 702-229-6615.

Violations in Henderson can be reported at tinyurl.com/hendersongraffiticomplaint or by calling 702-267-3950.

In North Las Vegas, residents can call 702-633-1677 or visit tinyurl.com/nlvgraffiticomplaint.

The county’s graffiti abatement hotline is 702-455-4509 and is centralized, meaning residents can report graffiti in any jurisdiction in the valley, and the reports are then forwarded to the appropriate entity for abatement.

Las Vegas, Henderson and North Las Vegas also have apps so users can report graffiti via their mobile devices. The apps are City LV Mobile, Contact Henderson Citizen Mobile and Contact North Las Vegas.

— To reach Henderson View reporter Cassandra Keenan, email ckeenan@viewnews.com or call 702-383-0278. Find her on Twitter: @CassandraKNews.

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