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Reporting Vandalism In Your Neighborhood

Last month, Seattle police arrested one of the city’s most prolific vandals in the Cascade neighborhood after a neighbor called police to report a group of men tagging a building.

Officers arrested a 20-year-old Shoreline man who has previously caused property damage in and around Seattle in recent years, repeatedly spray painting and writing his tag, ABYS, on homes and businesses in and around the city.

This wasn’t the first time police have contacted the 20-year-old man about graffiti, and it may not be the last. While SPD does not typically draw attention to vandals like ABYS, the department wants you to be aware of this prolific tagger, and help you understand how and why you should report tagging and other vandalism to SPD.  “I want people to be aware of him and know we’re taking this seriously,” says Seattle Police Department Graffiti Detective Chris Young.

Tagging and graffiti are expensive problems in Seattle. A 2010 report by the City Auditor found the city spends $1.8 million a year on graffiti abatement, and that’s just what it costs the city to clean up tagging left on public property. Nine hundred Seattle residents surveyed for the report also said they collectively spent nearly a quarter million dollars cleaning up tags left on private homes and businesses every year.

In order to address costly vandalism in Seattle, SPD devoted Det. Young to pursuing graffiti cases full-time. Det. Young now works out of the department’s headquarters downtown, working with patrol officers to keep records of all graffiti reported across the city to identify prolific taggers, like ABYS, for prosecution.

In order for prosecutors to file charges against taggers, police often need to catch them in the act. If you see someone tagging or writing graffiti on a building, call 911.

If your home or business is vandalized but you aren’t able to catch a tagger in the act, call the police department’s non-emergency line at (206) 625-5011 to report the incident.
If you see graffiti on public property—like a city building, or light pole—call the city’s graffiti hotline at (206) 684-7587 or report the graffiti online.

You can also find specific information on graffiti removal at the Seattle Public Utilities page, and find tips to make your home or business a less appealing target for taggers on SPD’s graffiti prevention page .