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3/30/2009
Graffiti vandals go on the offensive in response to Councilman Weiner's Citizens Anti-graffiti Brigade - News Journal

Graffiti vandals strike 2 Newark locales
15 incidents in Salem Woods, Country Creek

BY SEAN O'SULLIVAN • THE NEWS JOURNAL • MARCH 30, 2009

Hours before an anti-graffiti group unveiled a donated cleaning machine that will eradicate marks left by "taggers" in Brandywine Hundred and Claymont on Saturday, a new wave of spray-painted vandalism hit two Newark-area communities.

New Castle County police reported Sunday that they are investigating another 15 cases of graffiti vandalism and are asking for the public's help in catching whoever is committing the crimes.

The latest spree happened overnight Friday and involved damage to homes, cars and buildings that were defaced with profane words in the communities of Salem Woods and Country Creek in the Newark area.

A separate and apparently unrelated spray-painting of profanity defaced the Pike Creek Country Club in Pike Creek, according to police.

New Castle County Councilman Robert Weiner, who organized an anti-graffiti brigade in his district, said he believes the measures residents have taken there have been so effective that the graffiti "taggers" have now moved on to other areas where anti-graffiti efforts have not been as well-organized.

"The graffiti vandals see this as a challenge, so they have raised their level of activity," he said, adding other communities have to respond by organizing their own anti-graffiti efforts.

Police have made some recent high-profile arrests for graffiti. Earlier this month, three teens were arrested for defacing property in Prices Corner, Mill Creek and Newark, with two facing 23 counts of graffiti and 16 counts of conspiracy. In December, a 17-year-old from Greenville, associated with a group of taggers known as the Fast Hands Crew, was arrested for defacing a heating and air conditioning unit at the Hagley Museum.

Weiner said residents have to aggressively report such vandalism to the police. He said people should not confront anyone, but should make note of anything they observe, such as descriptions of the vandals or their car, or take cell-phone pictures, and then call police.

New Castle County police on Sunday asked anyone who sees suspicious activity to immediately call 9-1-1 to alert them about vandalism.

While graffiti in some areas has been liked to criminal gang activity, Weiner said in New Castle County it seems more related to misguided "artists" who are engaging in graffiti wars with other taggers.

Nonetheless, Weiner said, graffiti is costly to clean up and lowers property values in communities where it occurs.

"It has become a plague, and a plague that is now growing quickly," he said.

Anyone with information about the latest graffiti incidents is asked to call New Castle County police at 395-8110, visit the county police Web site at www.nccpd.com or call Crime Stoppers at (800) TIP-3333.

Anonymous tips can also be sent via cell-phone text to CRIMES (274637). Start by typing TIPS702, leave one space then begin typing the message.

Calls also can be made to the county police's graffiti tip line at 571-7332 to report incidents or provide information.


Contact Sean O'Sullivan at 324-2777 or sosullivan@delawareonline.com.

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