HAVERHILL — Police said they will bring more charges against a 16-year-old boy who was arrested last week for allegedly tagging 14 properties in the city and causing thousands of dollars in damage.
Police said they are bringing an additional 18 charges against the boy, who last week was charged with 14 counts of malicious damage to property as well as four counts of receiving stolen property — stolen license plates and city street signs.
The additional charges are the result of officers noticing graffiti while on patrol after last week’s arrest and recent reports from property owners, said police spokesman Lt. Robert Pistone. Police believe the boy made these markings before he was arrested, but they were not noticed or reported until more recently, Pistone said.
Police said the boy went on a tagging spree and used cans of blue spray paint to vandalize mostly commercial properties with the letters “KOSK.”
Because of the boy’s age, police are not releasing his name or the results of a hearing last week in Lawrence Juvenile Court, where he was to be formally charged with the first set of crimes. Police said the boy will be brought back to Juvenile Court to be arraigned on the new charges.
Police said an investigation into a large number of graffiti markings throughout Haverhill reported just before and during the week of the Fourth of July led to the arrest of the boy on July 9. Police said tagging was discovered outside the public library, on U.S. Postal trucks downtown, on billboards, and at the downtown train station and several businesses.
Investigators executed a search warrant at a home on Claremont Avenue. There, they said they found cans of blue spray paint, drawings of the letters “KOSK,’’ and stolen license plates and street signs.
Pistone said many of the new charges stemmed from reports received by police since The Eagle-Tribune published a story last week about the boy’s arrest.
“We’re still getting reports, including a few on Monday,” Pistone said yesterday. “The boy has been charged with an additional 18 counts of defacing property, and we expect to charge him with an additional three counts.”
Pistone said most of the latest reports of tagging involved large properties, including the Mission Towers apartment complex at 180 Water St. He said similar markings were found on the side of a tractor-trailer at the Nestle Food Company on Primrose Street, on the exterior wall of the building there, and on a rear wall of Bradford Depot Laundry at 30 Railroad Ave. The markings were also found on buildings on Winter Street, Emerson Street and Hale Street, as well as on a retaining wall in front of Central Plaza, Pistone said.
“We’re not concerned with it being a gang tag, but we’d like to identify what it (“KOSK”) means,” Pistone said.
Pistone said the boy’s tags were first noticed by police during the last week of June and that detectives went around the city noting details of the markings and their locations. Pistone said it is highly unlikely the boy continued tagging properties after his arrest, based on the dates when officers noticed the tags.
“We actually knew about most of these before people called us,” Pistone said.
He would not comment on how the investigation led to the boy’s arrest.
Pistone said the crime of defacing property is punishable by a state prison term of up to three years, a jail term of up to two years, and/or a fine of $1,500 or three times the value of the property defaced or destroyed, whichever is greater. He said the punishment can also include a driver’s license suspension of one year. If the convicted person is not licensed, one year would be added to the age of driving eligibility of that person, he said.
“Also, offenders must either pay to repair the damage or perform the labor themselves,” Pistone said.