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IE targets graffiti with high-tech tools

September 26, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Tracking graffiti artists goes high-tech in the Inland Empire.

About a year ago, San Bernardino County gave residents a new tool in the fight against graffiti. It was actually a smartphone application that gave residents the ability to tell their city about new graffiti so crews could clean it up more quickly.

But now law enforcement has its own new tool to fight "tagging" with a Web-based computer program.

They know a website isn't going to stop taggers, but they say it will help in prosecuting them once they're caught.

"Graffiti is going to be here, it's rampant, the kids are loving it. It's not stopping it, it's just helping us identify the perpetrators doing it, and arrest them," said San Bernardino County Sheriff's Deputy Joseph Parker.

Here's how it works:

When detectives take pictures of graffiti in the area, they then plug those images into a massive database, a database that's shared by law enforcement all across Southern California.

Deputy Oscar Godoy says it helps tie cases together so they can charge taggers with multiple crimes.

"If we only catch them doing one tag, this actually we can run what they were caught tagging, and run it through the system, and realize that they've been tagging throughout the city about 50 times now," said Godoy.

But Rancho Cucamonga is one of several cities across Southern California using the tracker system, and the more cities that get involved, the more useful the system can be.

"It used to be word of mouth, and this technology now is helping us identify more people with the computer system, graffiti throughout the city, so it's helped us a lot," said Parker.

As more and more cities sign up, they hope more and more taggers will be taken down.


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