EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

August 9, 2013

Teen charged in daytime tagging

Recent spree heightens police focus on graffiti

By Bill Cantwell

---- — HAVERHILL — As graffiti incidents go in Haverhill this was minor, but it happened in the middle of the day.

That brazenness and the fact that police are keeping a close watch for graffiti vandals resulted in another tagging arrest this week.

It is the third time a teenage boy was charged with that crime in the last three weeks. The other two involved widespread sprees causing thousands of dollars in damage — and making the watch for taggers a priority for police.

In this week’s incident, police said an officer watched at midday as a boy tagged the door of a business in the Lafayette Square area. Officers said they caught him red handed and confronted him.

“It’s a small example, but it shows how much of it is out there that somebody would walk up to a business and do this in the middle of the day,’’ police Deputy Chief Donald Thompson said. “The department is taking an aggressive stand on the graffiti problem.’’

Police said an officer was parked in his patrol car just after noontime on Monday when he saw a boy walk in front of the Lattime Insurance office and write something on the door.

As the boy walked away, the officer drove up to him and told him to stop, but he did not, the report said. The boy was out of the officer’s sight briefly, so he radioed another officer and they found the boy nearby, according to the report.

They asked him what he did outside the insurance office and he said, “I wrote something on it and I’m sorry,’’ according to the report.

The officers arrested the 16-year-old boy, handcuffed him and took him to the police station. The Eagle-Tribune is withholding his name because of his age.

Thompson said officers have been keeping an especially close eye out for graffiti and taggers since two teenage boys who are friends were charged recently with more than 60 incidents of tagging to buildings, vehicles and other items across the city. That graffiti consisted of letters that mean nothing to police, investigators said.

A cleanup crew of inmates sent by the Essex Sheriff’s Office has removed much of the graffiti — a key to keeping the problem from spreading, police said.

“It’s important to clean it up as soon as possible,’’ Thompson said, encouraging the public to let police know when graffiti is discovered. “Graffiti encourages more graffiti.’’