The destructive menace of graffiti has again reared its head in our community, with somebody or group purposely defacing buildings.
We’ve noticed this particularly in our downtown core over the past couple of weeks. First it was one building, then another. After a stroll around the area Wednesday morning we discovered quite a wide variety of ‘tagging’ that’s been scrawled in our midst.
In many cases it’s on the sides of buildings or between buildings which are barely visible to people driving along our streets. But then in other instances the canvas has been clearly visible and many feet long.
Golds, purples, reds, blacks and whites have been used to write words or stylized graphics. In one case the miscreant who used purple actually climbed onto a sidewalk overhang to deface a main street business building.
Another vacant building on the lakeshore appears to have been entered and words sprayed on the inside of the glass windows.
Almost exactly two years ago, we ran a story which encouraged business owners, residents and power companies to quickly remove graffiti to prevent a rise in this crime.
We echo that sentiment today. Get out there quickly and cover the offensive work.
At that time RCMP were diligent in tracking down a suspect and a subsequent story a month later related that a 23 year old graffiti artist was facing 58 Criminal Code charges as a result. Others have been charged since that time as graffiti appeared in different areas of town.
The Saskatoon Police Service’s website has information on how graffiti affects the community, how to make property less of a target and tips on how to remove it, said our April 2011 story.
(Go to www.police.saskatoon.sk.ca then click on Inside Our Service on the left side then under that heading click on Anti-Graffiti Unit.)
“If not immediately removed, graffiti sends out a message that ‘nobody cares’ about the area. It also causes the area to look unsafe and makes people concerned about their personal safety. This creates an open invitation for more littering, loitering and other graffiti. Unfortunately, it may also lead to an increase in other crimes and acts of violence,” states the Saskatoon site.
“The quick removal of graffiti is the most effective means to prevent further acts of vandalism so property owners should remove graffiti within 24 hours after it appears,” states the site. “This will prevent the offender from receiving the fame and recognition they desire when other taggers see their ‘Tag’ and reduces the likelihood that it will spread.”
Our residents and elected officials have created a community we’re proud to call home. But this type of destruction is counter to the welcoming atmosphere we strive to portray, particularly as the summer season approaches.
Under the town’s Community Standards Bylaw, the fine for placing graffiti on property is $2,500 for the first offense and increases to $5,000 for the second offence and $7,500 for the third and subsequent offences within one year. There’s also a fine schedule for ‘failure to remove graffiti’ which can be levelled against property owners. That’s $250 for the first offence, $500 for the second offence and $1,000 for the third and subsequent offences within one year.
That being said, it’s up to each and every one of us to be vigilant, to pay attention to our surroundings, and to quickly remove graffiti as it appears.
As well, report any suspicious activity to police or if you’re uncomfortable reporting graffiti personally then contact Crimestoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).
We can make a difference. We can solve this problem and return our community to its idyllic nature.