Seasonal Surge in Graffiti Hits Reno - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Seasonal Surge in Graffiti Hits Reno

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Another day, another long to-do list for Reno's graffiti abatement team…the vandals are at it again. Reno Graffiti Abatement Team leader Brian Suhl doesn't sugarcoat the problem. He told us, "Typically we start every Monday with between 60 and 80 calls. Then as the day goes on we'll get 20 more."

Week after week, day after day...vandals take a cheap can of spray paint and do extensive damage. It's so commonplace, it's easy to miss. Some graffiti, you just can't. On Wells Avenue, Absolute Tattoo's building is surrounded by scrawls. Tattoo artist Joe Zeigler can't avoid it where he works: "Everyday it seems like there's a new one. I don't know what the deal is, but they're all over the place."

Absolute Tattoo is part of the abatement team's first stop: the bounty of sloppy scrawls at the corner of Wells and Thoma. A tag here, a tag there…marring this wall, and that one. Abatement Team member Kim Coleman takes pictures of the tag before they cover up, collecting evidence. She told us, "If they do actually get someone they want to prosecute, they can tie his name or her name to every single one."

Brian then takes on the tags with his paint wand. He and Kim know this spot well. They've covered it many times before, and on this visit were spraying over their previous cover up paint. Brian pointed out, "That is our grey on it already, so it originally wasn't that. But the city has tried to get businesses to use our color of patching paint."

The paint cover up is fast and easy, but not so with the ubiquitous stickers they call "slap tags." Brian pointed one out on the back of a street sign: "These are ‘hello my name is' or postal address labels. They (the vandals) can walk around and just slap them up almost instantaneously. It's incredibly difficult to catch them at it."

And they're tough to remove. We watched as Brian put 3 minutes of muscle cleaning it off. But the good guys are getting some new help. The city's budget problems cut this task force down to just Brian years ago. Recently, the city restored some funding. Brian told us, "With just one person I just started falling incredibly far behind and couldn't answer all the calls each week. We now have our two abatement techs."

Keeping pace and taking the graffiti down fast is crucial. The vandals want their work seen. Erasing it quickly takes down their goal, and dissuades retaliatory graffiti from gangs.

But the catch is there's a lot of covering up to do, and officers have a lot of vandals to find. After some work on Wells, Brian and Kim headed out to Riverside Drive. They got 10 calls there.

-written by John Potter

There's an easy way to report graffiti in Reno. Just click this link for the phone number and online way to have it corrected:

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