Graffiti Damages City Budgets Not Just Buildings

Graffiti cleanup takes a big chunk out of municipal budgets. Phoenix, AZ spends more than $6 million annually on graffiti clean up. The city of San Jose spent about $2 million in 2006, Las Vegas, NV spends about $3 million annually, and Chicago, IL budgeted $6.5 million in 2006.

Graffiti is the most common type of property vandalism (35%) according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Immediate removal -- within 24-48 hours -- is one key to successful graffiti prevention.

There are several types of graffiti, including, gang, hate, and generic (non-threatening messages like "Bobby loves Suzy" or "Class of 2003").

About 80% of graffiti is "tagger" graffiti. Another 5% are "pieces," or large visuals. Nationally, gang graffiti makes up about 10% of graffiti.

Most studies show the majority of "taggers" are males between 12 and 21 years old. Approximately 15% of graffiti vandals are young females.

Arrest data from 17 major cities shows that 50% to 70% of all street-level graffiti is created by suburban adolescents, predominately males between the ages of 12 and 19.

Community paint-brush murals can be an effective prevention strategy. Although they are occasionally defaced by graffiti, they instill a sense of pride among youth and other community members who have helped create them.

There are four primary motivating factors for graffiti vandalism: fame, rebellion, self-expression, and power.

Getting the media to publish photos and videotape of graffiti is often the ultimate fame for graffiti vandals.

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