New Regional Anti-Graffiti Campaign To Begin

Law Enforcement To Track Graffiti Artists

A high-tech system to track graffiti and individual taggers is going to be used countywide for the first time, county officials announced Thursday.

The GPS-based Graffiti Tracker enters photographs of graffiti into a database, allowing law enforcement to keep track of individual vandals. That makes it easier for prosecutors to seek jail time and restitution after they're arrested.

The system was first used in Escondido, and was expanded into Oceanside and areas patrolled by the San Diego County Sheriff's Department.

It will now be used in San Diego, Carlsbad, Chula Vista, Coronado, El Cajon, La Mesa and National City, as well as by the Metropolitan Transit System, the North County Transit District and Port of San Diego.

"There's going to be nowhere in the county for graffiti vandals to hide," county Supervisor Greg Cox said at a news conference. "We're going to go after them and make them pay for the damages they've caused."

Just on Tuesday, vandals etched 94 windows at 31 businesses in Ocean Beach, resulting in tens of thousands of dollars in damage, according to the San Diego Police Department.

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, 14 cars and several public facilities in Rancho Penasquitos had swastikas and "666" spray-painted on them.

With Graffiti Tracker, public works crews use a GPS-enabled camera to take photos of graffiti, and record the date, time and location.

Monikers and other identifying imprints are often seen in graffiti, so the program can link defaced property to individual taggers. That information is kept in a database that police and prosecutors can search to determine a tagger's patterns or geographic areas.

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