Technology tracks taggers in O.C.

STANTON, Calif. When county workers find graffiti, they report the information, figure out the cost of cleanup and then take a picture of the site.

While the county tries to paint over the vandalism, the information is sent to a database.

"When you wake up and it's on your house, it's terrible," said Monica Murillo, a Stanton resident.

The Orange County Sheriff's Department and the Orange County Transportation Authority showed off the latest in the fight against graffiti on Monday.

The Tracking Automated and Graffiti Reporting System, or TAGRS, is accessible to law enforcement throughout the county.

"Investigators use the database to help identify graffiti vandals by name, moniker and gang affiliation," said Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens.

Using data from crime reports, authorities say the system can help them link taggers to other cases of vandalism, which will help in their prosecution.

Some residents don't think it will help.

"It will just make things worse," said Murillo. "Because it's like telling them to come out and do it some more."

"I live right here, you know. I want my neighborhood to be clean. I don't want graffiti all over the place," said Mannie Gutierrez, another Stanton resident.

OCTA says it started the program in April to deal with the problem of people tagging their buses. In the past five months, they say graffiti has dropped by 46 percent.

The U.S. spends about $12 billion each year to clean up graffiti.

A law was recently enacted, requiring parents to pay for the cost of removing graffiti caused by their children. Authorities say they hope that law, along with the new tracking system, will lead to cleaner neighborhoods.


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