What appears to be a rash of graffiti in the city can be attributed to a move from the traditional areas and an inability by the city to clean up private property, said Sheriff Ken Furlong.
"There isn't an increase in graffiti. It's just moved into more visible areas, like downtown, as a result of closed businesses," he said Tuesday.
And, he said, because vacant buildings are being hit, it's harder for officials to track down someone responsible for the property and have them remove the graffiti as quickly as an open business would do.
On Tuesday, Furlong, Supervisor Shelly Aldean and Claudia Saavedra of the city's graffiti abatement program gave a presentation to the Carson City Rotary Club, talking about the graffiti issue in the city.
Furlong said the number of graffiti reports for the year are on track with last year's: There were 326 graffiti reports the city in 2010, and there have been 116 reports this year.
But the majority of last year's reports came from areas traditionally hit by graffiti and gangs, he said.
Now it's moved downtown, and the graffiti is no longer the names of criminal gangs in the city, which indicates its the work of "tagger crews," said the sheriff.
"Tagger crews run from four to six kids each, and we have about four to six crews in town that gear up, load up and go out with the sole purpose of tagging," he said.
The competing tagger crews then go out and cover up their rivals' tags with their own, making a small mark bigger with each reply, he said.
Furlong said he believes that a change in city ordinance - gicing property owners a timeline to remove graffiti as well as offering a set reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of graffiti offenders - would go a long way toward clearing up what appears to be an increase.
Currently, Carson City's Municipal Code indicates a reward for information, and there is no timeline that private property owners have to abide by for removal of graffiti.
The sheriff stressed that parental involvement can help too.
Parents should know that juveniles are prohibited from possessing spray paint or paint sticks while in any public street, park, playground, recreational facility or other public place.
And if they're tagging buildings, there will be signs elsewhere of their crime.
"Look in your child's room; look at your child's notebook," Furlong advised parents. "It's very likely you'll find the same graffiti in a child's room as you'll see on the walls."
2008 - 359 reports of graffiti with 14 arrests
2009 - 298 reports of graffiti with 1 arrest
2010 - 326 reports of graffiti with 11 arrests
2011 YTD - 116 reports of graffiti with 9 arrests