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L.A. taggers targeted in major bust

August 28, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department is cracking down on taggers.Deputies staged a major bust on tagging crews in Los Angeles. Eyewitness News went along for the bust Thursday morning.

The first target was a father whose work can be seen all over a Wilshire Center neighborhood.

The man's group is called "UPN." On Thursday, authorities arrested 11 of their members.

"UPN stands for either 'your property next,' or 'under pig's noses,' depending on what mood they're in. This is a tagging crew that's responsible for between $480,000 and $1 million worth of damage to the L.A. County transit system," said Commander Dan Finkelstein, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department has begun cracking down on taggers recently.

Earlier this summer, 24-year-old Cyrus Yazdani was arrested for allegedly painting the infamous "Buket" signs all over Los Angeles freeways.

Authorities used internet sites, like YouTube and MySpace to track down taggers. In some instances, all they needed was their signs.

"The most obvious tip is their tag, which, in a way, is them signing their name," said Commander Finkelstein. "If a bus is tagged, we can find out where this bus was tagged. And then we start working that neighborhood. And, no surprise ... street signs in that neighborhood are tagged. And then you find out that it might be this person. Go to their house ... the lawn furniture is tagged ... the thermostat is tagged."

That is similar to the type of evidence authorities found in one suspect's home on Thursday. There were pictures of his work, bus passes to places he had possibly tagged, and a gun. It was kept loaded in the same room where he sleeps with his 4-year-old daughter.

Sheriff's officials say they may have taken down one of the largest tagging crews in Los Angeles. However, they say they still have a lot of work to do. The hope is that the punishment for these suspects will be enough for taggers to think twice before they break the law.

Along with the 11 UPN members arrested in Los Angeles County, one member was arrested in Riverside County and another in Orange County. They are expected to be arraigned on felony charges.

Punishments for tagging can include thousands of dollars in fines and state prison time.

 

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