18-Year-Old Suspected Tagger Arrested in Murrieta

An 18-year-old Murrieta man suspected of spray-painting multiple locations throughout the city was taken into custody Friday.

Nikko Cruz Talavera was arrested on suspicion of felony vandalism for allegedly causing $1,400 damage to public property, according to Murrieta police Sgt. Don Weller.

He said Talavera was identified following a recent investigation that began at Creekside High School, 24150 Hayes Ave., where some of the graffiti vandalism occurred.

The "tagger" marked his targets with the moniker "PHLO," according to Weller.

Using a Riverside County database known as TAGRS -- Tracking Automated Graffiti Reporting System -- that aids investigators in identifying patterns, Murrieta police were able to narrow down the list of suspects and eventually collected enough evidence to justify a search warrant, which was served at Talavera's home at 24953 Shoshonee Drive, Weller said.

"Based on the totality of the circumstances, Talavera was taken into custody for felony vandalism," the sergeant said.

The suspect was booked into the Southwest Detention Center in Murrieta but posted $5,000 bail and was released a short time later.

Anyone with information about the case was encouraged to contact Weller at 951-461-6318.

—City News Service