The problem of graffiti on public and private property is an ongoing problem. Currently Bremerton and Kitsap County are experiencing a spike in the number of graffiti incidents. Applying graffiti to property without the owner's permission is a crime. The police department is asking for citizen assistance in reducing graffiti by reporting the incidents and when on private property, removing it as soon as possible.
Graffiti can be defined as "an inscription or a drawing placed upon property without the property owner's permission". Graffiti can be gang related - "a news letter for the streets." It can also be the "statement" of "taggers" that may have no gang affiliations. Regardless of whether it is gang related or tagger graffiti, it is criminal malicious mischief that is costly, annoying and unnecessary. Materials commonly used to apply graffiti include spray paint, grease pencils, felt tipped markers, water based paint, stickers, shoe polish and even crayons.
Why does graffiti exist?
- Gangs use graffiti in an attempt to intimidate other gangs or members of the community.
- Gangs use graffiti to advertise their names, territory, member's names and names of gangs they oppose.
- "Taggers" (those that are not gang related) use graffiti to gain notoriety or just be rebellious.
- Graffiti is not an artistic expression. Graffiti is not only the malicious destruction of property, but it can contribute to violence and other crime.
How Does Graffiti Affect a Neighborhood?
- Graffiti leads to overall psychological and physical decline of a neighborhood.
- Graffiti is vandalism and destruction of property.
- If graffiti is not removed, gang members and taggers will interpret this as a sign of low neighborhood pride and they will assume they can control the neighborhood.
- With graffiti, there will be an increase in gang crime and a corresponding decline in property values.
Reporting & Removal of Graffiti
- If the graffiti is on public property citizens can call the Public Works Department's First Response Line at 360-473-5920 to request that it be removed.
- If the graffiti is on your private property then you are responsible for removing it. If you observe graffiti on someone else's private property, but it is not being removed you can contact the city's Code Enforcement Officer at 360-473-5213 and report it. The Code Enforcement Officer will contact the property owner about removing the graffiti.
- Graffiti incidents should be reported using one of the methods listed below. Before graffiti is removed, at least 2 color photographs should be taken. If a trail of photographic evidence can be tied to a vandal who has been caught, it may escalate the crime from a misdemeanor to a felony and assist in restitution.
- Graffiti along with other crimes can be reported by calling 911.
- Visit CleanUpBremerton.com to report graffiti online.
- Citizens are encouraged to use the Bremerton Police Online Reporting System that allows you to report crimes like graffiti yourself without involving a police officer. Visit this website to learn more on self reporting crimes where there is no suspect information.
- Graffiti should be removed as quickly as possible after its discovery. There is a direct correlation between length of time prior to removal and rate of re occurrence.
- It is recommended that graffiti on private property be removed during early daylight hours by at least 2 people. This is for safety reasons.
Graffiti Removal Tips
- The sooner graffiti is removed, the easier it is to clean. Smooth, hard surfaces are the easiest to clean and rough, porous surfaces are the most difficult.
- Denatured alcohol can be used to remove some types of graffiti material depending on the surface it is on.
- Local home improvement, hardware and paint stores sell commercial graffiti removal products and can be consulted for help on difficult surfaces.
- When using chemicals to remove graffiti, follow manufacturer's instructions and wear proper protective equipment. Some removers may damage some painted surfaces.
- Painting over the graffiti with paint that matches the background cover is often the quickest and least expensive.