SALT LAKE CITY — In the last 10 years, cases of illegal graffiti have more than tripled in the downtown area. Now, Salt Lake police are asking the public to speak up if they see tagging activity.
Salt Lake City spends nearly $400,000 a year on graffiti cleanup efforts. A crew is working on it full time, though graffiti continues to have a strong presence on the city's streets — an indication of gang presence in the area.
Police say gang members marking their territory do nothing but invite more criminal activity or tear down neighborhoods. In addition to the cleanup costs are the costs for officers to respond to new incidents or to investigate the gang taggers in town, and businesses can suffer as well.
"I think it is a problem for residents and business owners," said Salt Lake City Police Department detective Veronica Montoya. "For them to see graffiti on their property — and it costs them money, time — and if it's a business owner sometimes customer won't want to come in. I think for them it's a big deal."
Police are asking community members to start calling police about tagging activity. Salt Lake City has created a hotline specifically to report graffiti. Anyone with information about the activity can call 801-972-7885.
Montoya said she is surprised by the number of people who just pass by someone tagging property.
"I wonder sometimes if they just don't think it's a big deal, but that's just giving the people the go ahead," Montoya said. "So residents, business owners, it's our property, we need to stand up for it."