Riverside Police Department
Graffiti Frequently Asked Questions
Please click on a question for an answer:
What is graffiti or tagging?
Tagging or graffiti is the unauthorized writing or drawing on a public or private surface. The unauthorized writing or drawing may consist of inscriptions, slogans, and/or drawings that are created by scratches, scribbles, etching, stickers, or paint.
Why do people "tag" walls?
People tag for various reasons; examples include vandals rebelling against authority, peer pressure from friends, false belief that graffiti is art, people seeking recognition or groups identifying their territory.
What do I do if my property is tagged?
There are several ways to remove graffiti. The best method for removal is determined by the amount of graffiti, the location of the graffiti, and the type of surface vandalized. Methods include, but are not limited to, a “paint-out,” which is simply to paint over the graffiti with a matching surface color; the use of solvents or chemicals; and pressure washing the graffiti surface. It is best to paint or remove the graffiti as soon as possible. Unfortunately, glass etching cannot be removed and the glass will have to be replaced at the property owner’s cost.
The most effective way to prevent graffiti is to remove it promptly. While this may be difficult, studies show that removal within 24 to 48 hours results in a nearly zero rate of reoccurrence. Consistent enforcement of local ordinances with strict penalties for graffiti vandalism is also effective. If the “tagger” is caught, they will be charged with the cleanup costs for their crime. In Riverside, residents can report graffiti by dialing 3-1-1 from a local phone.
What should I do when I see existing graffiti in public?
If it is in City of Riverside, call the 311 Center at (951) 826-5311 or via the web at crmweb.riversideca.gov and report the information to the dispatch center. You may also download the free 311 Riverside app onto your smart phone and report the crime. When using the 311 app, simply open up the application, take a photo of the graffiti, follow the prompts, and send the photo. The phone GPS will record the location and send the information to Public Works for cleanup. If the graffiti is on private property, it is the responsibility of the property owner. In those cases, the property owner needs to remove it as soon as possible after taking a photo for evidence and calling (951) 354-2007 to make a police report.
What happens to a tagger when they are caught tagging?
They are arrested and must appear in court. When they are found guilty they can receive as much as three years custody time for a felony (over $400 worth of damages) and up to a year custody time for a misdemeanor (under $400 worth of damages). They can also be placed on probation with terms allowing search of their person, property, residences at any time by law enforcement. They can also be responsible for court restitution costs as well as the costs of eradication of the graffiti vandalism they committed. In the case of juveniles, the parents or guardians can be responsible for the above mentioned costs. Taggers can also have their driving privileges suspended or eligibility to obtain a driver license can be delayed as a result of tagging convictions. Juveniles can also be committed to a Sheriff's Work Program including a six month to a year tour in a boot camp program.
Why do individuals get involved with tagging and what is the difference between gang and tagger graffiti?
Taggers are using graffiti for fame and notoriety. Their objective is to get their crew (group) name and or their individual moniker up on buildings, signs, walls, etc. so that they can receive recognition from other taggers and tagging crews. The more locations that they tag their graffiti on or the more difficult the location to remove their tags, the more fame and recognition they receive. These taggers will go to other cities, counties, and even other states to achieve this objective.
What is the difference between gang and tagger graffiti?
Tagger graffiti is used for fame and notoriety, with the objective to get their moniker up so they can receive recognition from other taggers and tagging crews. Gang graffiti is strictly territorial and is used to let members of other gangs know to stay out of a particular area or be subject to retaliation.
Chief of Police Sergio G. Diaz
10540 Magnolia Ave. #B
Riverside, CA 92505