The Sault Ste. Marie Police Service has been actively involved in working with the community on the issue of graffiti.
Graffiti or tagging is responsible for thousands of dollars in property damage and creates a negative impact and unease in the community.
Members from the Sault Ste. Marie Police Service have been part of the City’s Graffiti Committee. In addition the Service has participated in several graffiti related initiatives such as Graffiti Reframed and 20 Minute Sault Ste. Marie Makeover.
Officers assigned to the elementary schools also educate young students on the consequences of criminal charges that can result from destroying property with graffiti.
Recently Detective Constable Joe Addison from Investigation Services was tasked with coordinating a tagging and graffiti cleanup in the City’s downtown core, which took place the week of August 17th to 21st.
During the press conference to kick off the cleanup Chief Keetch emphasized that the tags that were being removed was different than the street art that was created by community improvement projects such as Graffiti Reframed. The tags removed during the cleanup were not art; but were indeed the criminal activity of mischief.
Detective Constable Addison has also been actively working on an enforcement component of graffiti.
The investigation has been able to show that one quarter of the downtown graffiti is the work of just three taggers.
Through various investigative techniques officers have been able to identify taggers and the work they are responsible for.
As a result of this work, a 16-year old male has been charged with one count of mischief under $5,000 in relation to an incident of tagging that took place in July to property on Gore Street. The mischief consisted of tagging the word “GOON” on a wall using multiple cans of spray paint.
The tag “GOON” is one of the tags that have made up a quarter of the graffiti in the downtown area. The tag “GOON” has also been seen in other locations across the city.
The youth will appear in court on September 29th.
As a parent there are things you can look for to help determine if your child is committing this crime.
Taggers are often members of a small loosely knit group of youths (statistically between 12 to 18 year of age), many from middle and upper income families, whose primary source of entertainment and excitement is the vandalism of private property with “Tagger Graffiti”.
Some signs that your child may be a tagger are:
- your child stays out until early morning or all night
- your child frequently wears a large back pack or baggy pants. Clothing may be paint stained. Packs and loose clothing can be used to hold paint and spray cans
- your child has large quantities of magic markers, shoe polish containers or other devices for drawing
- your child sleeps during the day and is active at night
- your child has paint on the tips of his/her fingers
- your child has permanent marker stains on his/her hands
- your child has graffiti displays or tags on clothing, binders, backpacks and the underside of the bill of their hat
- your child has graffiti magazines, flyers or a portfolio of tags
- tags you see on the walls of your neighbourhood are seen on your child’s walls, books and clothing
- your child is frequently deceitful about his/her activities
- your child has quantities of paint cans but does not have the income to afford it
When it comes to graffiti there are several strategies that can and are implemented. Prompt graffiti removal, citizen reporting of graffiti, education, environmental changes, monitoring and effective youth diversions ad enforcement are all required for success.
The police cannot do it alone. This is a community problem. By working together we can make Sault Ste. Marie a beautiful place.