Taggers And Their Parents Under Fire

With graffiti in Lake Elsinore and Wildomar on the rise, the Lake Elsinore Sheriff's Station is making a point of letting parents know they are on the hook if their kids get caught tagging.

Wednesday deputies from the Lake Elsinore Police Department's Special Enforcement Team, which operates out the Lake Elsinore Sheriff's Station, arrested a 17-year-old on suspicion of graffiti vandalism. The damages due to the alleged nine tagging acts are estimated at more than $1,500 – a price the parents will be expected to pay if the teen is convicted.

"The arrest is a result of the continuing efforts of the City of Lake Elsinore's Graffiti Taskforce. The Graffiti Taskforce is a consolidation of resources within the city; combining Public Works, Code Enforcement, Parks and Recreation, Information Technology, and the Police Department, to aggressively combat graffiti," according to a news release from the Lake Elsinore Police Department.

Currently, the City of Lake Elsinore offers a $1,000 reward for a tip that leads to the arrest and conviction of a tagger. The ordinance was spearheaded by the Lake Elsinore Safety Advisory Commission, which has agreed to work more closely with the city on public safety issues, including graffiti prevention.

Last week, the Lake Elsinore Police Department released a statement that said it "is dedicated to the eradication of graffiti."

Additionally, Wildomar is working with law enforcement to stamp out graffiti in its city. During the April 11 City Council meeting, council members approved the use by city staff of the "Tracking Automated and Graffiti Reporting System (TAGRS)." The technology will allow the city and sheriff's deputies to store and track graffiti incidents in Wildomar, which law enforcement can later use in its investigations into the tagging crimes.

The Riverside County Sheriff's Department already utilizes the TAGRS technology; the cost for Wildomar city staff to come onboard is zero, provided they have Smartphones, which is required hardware for the TAGRS technology, according to city documents.

Due to budget constraints, both Lake Elsinore and Wildomar have reduced the amount of police service they contract for through the Riverside County Sheriff's Department, a factor that may be contributing to increased graffiti.

But as graffiti vandalism increases, so do the concerns about preventing it. It is unclear whether any of the recent tactics will have any impact on reducing tagging.

As Lake Elsinore City Councilwoman Melissa Melendez has said in recent meetings, warnings might not be enough to worry taggers or their parents.

"They already know it's against the law," she said

Original Article Published By Lake Elsinore Wildomar Patch