Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Paradise Valley: Town victim to 11 tags; Police offer $250 reward for information

Police documented last week 11 graffiti drawings, all including anarchy or peace signs, and believe the vandalism is related.

Residents in the northern part of town began calling police the morning of Sept. 10 to report red "tagged" walls and power boxes, said Crime Prevention Officer Rick Cookemboo.

Police are offering up to a $250 reward for information on the graffiti that occurred Sept. 10.

All reports were north of Mockingbird Lane and most were near the intersection of Doubletree Ranch and Invergordon roads.

"I don't think there was any rhyme or reason to where they hit," Officer Cookemboo said.

Police officers believe the tags were not gang-related and possibly just one or more juveniles with paint cans, Officer Cookemboo.

"We think it is kids because true anarchists would not put a heart next to it (an anarchy symbol)," he said, who added the department plans to put up posters around schools to urge students to report information anonymously.

Officer Cookemboo works in Paradise Valley classrooms encouraging youth to make good decisions and said he has seen the anarchist symbol sketched on some students' notebooks..

"Many are using it to show protest to the war," he said.

Paradise Police Chief John Wintersteen said residents report information to the graffiti hotline, run by the Northwest Phoenix Block Watch Coalition, a group that Paradise Valley donates $500 a year to assist with incidents such as this one.

Graffiti reports in Paradise Valley are not common, Officer Cookemboo said.

"Every now and then, we'll get one or two reports a month," he said. "It's not a huge problem."

For the three years he has worked at the Paradise Valley crime prevention officer, Officer Cookemboo said this is the first suspected string of graffiti reports.

Phoenix, however, sees thousands of graffiti reports a month.

William Hogan, neighborhood program coordinator in Phoenix, said the Graffiti Busters team responded to 4,730 reports in Phoenix in July, up from 3,093 the same time last year.

Mr. Hogan said increased reports in Phoenix were due to both increased graffiti in the area and more residents reporting tagged sites.

An spike in the Phoenix-are population could also be a contributing factor.

"We're seeing residents move here from all over the world," Mr. Hogan said. "Unfortunately, some people from other areas think it's OK to graffiti."

The 11 reported tagged walls and power boxes did not contain any vulgar pictures or language, which are also rare in Paradise Valley, Officer Cookemboo said.

Mr. Hogan said in Phoenix, graffiti reports range from complex drawings to simple one dimensional.