Vista woman arrested, suspected of tagging 356 locations throughout city

Graffiti Tracker database helped link graffiti

VISTA, Calif. - After hundreds of hours of detective work, a Vista woman suspected of tagging more than 350 different locations has been arrested.

Authorities say 18-year-old Ramona Montes would show off her graffiti to friends on Facebook and brag about ditching the police afterwards. Now, she is in custody at the Las Colinas Detention Facility charged with 12 counts of felony vandalism.

The report regarding Montes that will soon be presented to the district attorney is more than 100 pages long with color pictures of 356 pieces of graffiti all tagged in different locations around Vista. Sheriff's Deputy Kevin Johnston said each tag was done by Montes.

"This one actually took a couple of months from beginning to end just based on trickling in information to the eventual point where I'm able to identify her and have enough probably cause to go and arrest her," he said.

Johnston said Montes is part of an all-female tagging crew, which he calls a rarity.

"This is actually the first case I've had involving a female tagger," said Johnston.

After many hours tracking and building his case against Montes, Johnston finally caught up with her Tuesday night.

"A lot of it was through speaking with other taggers," he said. "She was cooperative. I mean, she didn't come in and surrender herself, we found her out in the street."

Johnston said once his department was granted a warrant for Montes' Facebook page, a whole slew of evidence was revealed, including a girl posing next to Montes, who Johnston says will likely be arrested next week.

He said she too was part of the same all-female tagging crew and responsible for nearly twice as many tags as Montes.

Johnston said Montes is now on the hook for at least $105,000 in restitution to the city of Vista. She is scheduled to be arraigned on Thursday. Bail was set at $10,000.

He added that Graffiti Tracker, an online database used to document and seek restitution from graffiti vandals, played a major role in linking all 356 pieces of graffiti to Montes.

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