Q&A Tuesday: Graffiti costs residents more than peace of mind

Sgt. Mark Marshall has been with the Carson City Sheriff's Department for 21 years. Marshall is in charge of the department's gang-and-graffiti unit and has been working with gangs and graffiti since 1990. Marshall also organizes education seminars for parents and children in Carson City on gangs and graffiti.

What harm does graffiti cause the community?

Graffiti is one of the most costly and destructive property crimes in the Carson City area. The entire community is affected by graffiti.

It gives neighborhoods the sign of neglect and makes residents feel unsafe. It costs the city and community hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to repair or replace property that was damaged by graffiti.

What are the penalties for those charged with graffiti offenses?

Penalties for graffiti can range from misdemeanor to felony charges, depending on how much damage was caused by the graffiti.

These penalties can include fines, jail time, and those who are convicted can be held responsible for restitution on the property damaged.

What laws are in place aimed at stemming the flow of graffiti?

Carson City Municipal Code 8.36.010 details criminal offenses related to graffiti. Spray-paint sales to minors are prohibited, minors in possession of spray paint is prohibited, reward for information to the arrest and conviction and parents can be held civilly liable if their child is caught vandalizing.

What measures are being taken by the Sheriff's Department to prevent graffiti?

Some of the ways to prevent graffiti is by using cameras in high-profile areas. Recently, the sheriff's department installed some cameras around town to determine if the benefits outweigh the costs.

Other ways to prevent graffiti are by letting the public know about this problem and making arrests known to the public. The gang unit has been interviewing known gang members in an attempt to get new leads on tagging.

Based on those interviews, three new warrant requests have been submitted to the district attorney this week.

What can residents do to help in the fight against graffiti?

Residents can assist by contacting the sheriff's department when they observe any graffiti.

Report graffiti as soon as possible. Report suspicious activity or persons. Approximately one-third of all graffiti cases are not reported. To report graffiti that's already happened, call Carson City's non-emergency dispatch number at 887-2007. If you are witnessing graffiti happening, call 911.

What can parents look for if they are concerned their children are involved in graffiti?

Parents should pay attention to their children, look at their school work, notebooks, backpacks, clothing (hats, shoes), rooms, etc. and look for unusual- type drawings, such as graffiti.

Most taggers practice their graffiti and are very proud of their work and are not afraid to display it.

Has their been an increase in graffiti locally?

Graffiti cases this year have increased approximately 25 percent, but during the past few weeks since the publicized arrests and the constant contact by the gang unit with our local gang members, graffiti has slowed down.


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