Graffiti is a very common type of gang crime- one that community members are very familiar with. There are two major types of Graffiti: tagging and gang graffiti. Although both forms of graffiti are illegal, the two forms are done for different reasons.
For “taggers” graffiti is a form of art or part of a contest. Gang graffiti is used as a way to mark territory, boast, or issue threats enemies.
Taggers, unlike traditional street gangs, are not usually violent. Tagger graffiti can usually be identified as more intricate and artistic than typical gang graffiti. The lettering in tagger graffiti tends to be entwined and turned upside down or sideways, looking more like a maze than letters.
Tagger graffiti is usually made up of several colors and might include caricatures of animals or humans. This kind of "piece," short for "masterpiece," is usually designed and sketched out ahead of time.
Taggers are motivated to put their moniker or "tag," in as many places as they can. They engage in contests with other groups, trying to outdo each other in terms of the number of "tags," the difficulty of the artwork, or the difficulty of the location of the tag.
Taggers gain visible recognition from their writing on walls. The more visible a wall is, the more desirable it is to taggers. Accordingly, freeway overpass signs, water towers, and billboards can quickly build a tagger's reputation.
Taggers are also known to write their moniker on sticky-backed labels that they commonly stick on any available surface.
A network exists to keep publicize this kind of graffiti among other taggers around the world. Magazines and newsletters publish this kind of graffiti and keep taggers in touch with each other. Taggers view their graffiti as street art and not as a crime.
Parents who believe that their child might be involved in tagging should look for spray paint cans, a collection of aerosol spray tips, wide-tip markers, glass etching tools, surgical gloves, name tag stickers, and photographs or self-made videos of graffiti. Sketches of graffiti, practice sheets containing a moniker, or school notebooks with doodles that resemble graffiti may indicate tagging activity. Paint or marker dye on the hands or extra-large, hooded coats with large cargo-type pockets often indicates an involvement in tagging.
Street Gang Graffiti
Street gang members use graffiti to increase their visibility, threaten rivals, and to intimidate residents in an area. Gang graffiti is usually much more primitive and sometimes more easily read than that done by taggers. Gang graffiti commonly includes telephone area codes and monikers of gang members and may show alliances between gangs, mark the scene of a crime, or commemorate the death of a fellow gang member. Gang graffiti may be done in old English-style letters, balloon letters, or simple, single-stroke letters.
ALWAYS paint over graffiti immediately or call an agency which will paint it free for you. Research shows that areas that are immediately painted over are much less likely to be "hit" again. Graffiti that is left up becomes a status symbol. Many communities have "adopt-a-wall" programs or programs that encourage volunteers to assist in cleaning off or painting over graffiti. Graffiti hot lines, for reporting graffiti, are available in many areas.
NEVER confront or challenge someone who is painting graffiti on a wall. Gang members and taggers are often armed and may assault a challenger even if they are not. If possible, obtain an accurate description of the individuals, the graffiti, a vehicle, and the license plate number. Video recordings of graffiti activities are also useful. All information should be reported to your local law enforcement agency to investigate.
If you find graffiti in a public place please notify the city in which the graffiti was found.
If the graffiti is in the area of one of the following agencies, please contact them for immediate free removal:
Salt Lake City: 801-972-7885 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Salt Lake County Graffiti Hotline: 801-468-2182
West Jordan: 801-569-5270
West Valley: 801-963-3467
Sandy City: 801-561-6712
3M National: 1-800-362-8936
For more information visit the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office website.