Knoxville tries to combat vandals by cleaning up graffiti

Knoxville tries to combat vandals by cleaning up graffiti

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Workers say graffiti costs the city a lot to clean it up and takes money away from other projects. Workers say graffiti costs the city a lot to clean it up and takes money away from other projects.
Stroke by stroke, black block letters disappear beneath fresh beige paint. Stroke by stroke, black block letters disappear beneath fresh beige paint.
Graffiti may be fun for taggers, but it's a burden for the city. Officers say many vandals mark up bridges, overpasses and buildings at night wearing masks, which makes them tough to catch. Graffiti may be fun for taggers, but it's a burden for the city. Officers say many vandals mark up bridges, overpasses and buildings at night wearing masks, which makes them tough to catch.
By SHELBY MILLER
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Graffiti has become not only an eyesore, but a big expense to the City of Knoxville.

Now the city and police department are working harder than ever to eliminate graffiti throughout Knoxville and catch the criminals responsible. 

Previous story: City of Knoxville battling graffiti with new pressure washer, asking public for help

City workers say over the last 12 months they've seen more graffiti in Knoxville than normal. While they can't pin-point a reason why, they say they're stepping up by buying more cleanup equipment and responding to graffiti calls immediately, in hopes of keeping vandals away from city streets.  

Workers say graffiti costs the city a lot to clean it up and takes money away from other projects.

"A $3 or $4 can of spray paint can cost several hundred to several thousand dollars to clean up," said David Brace, the City of Knoxville's public service director.

Stroke by stroke, black block letters disappear beneath fresh beige paint.

Graffiti may be fun for taggers, but it's a burden for the city. Officers say many vandals mark up bridges, overpasses and buildings at night wearing masks, which makes them tough to catch.

"We do various things in an effort to try and catch [the vandals] and it's tough," said Knoxville Police Department Sgt. Sammy Shaffer. "Some of these taggers are literally in and out in seconds."

While it may take vandals only seconds to do the damage, it takes workers anywhere from a couple hours to a few days to clean it up.

Knoxville workers clear graffiti from public sites, but depend on private property owners to clean up their own tagged buildings, and they encourage those people to clear the graffiti quick.

"It lets folks know that it's not being seen and it's not being tolerated," Sgt. Shaffer said.

Police officers believe graffiti isn't just an issue in Knoxville, but across the state. They're working with other agencies to track the people behind the paint, and, in the meantime, eliminate the eyesores across the city.

"That's really what we want, is to clean it quickly and make sure it's not an eye sore for our public," Brace said.

Over the past two days the Knoxville Police Department alone has covered up 30 graffiti sites. They have 20 more places they plan to paint over by the end of the week.

Officers encourage the public to help catch the vandals responsible for the city's graffiti. If you see someone in the process of tagging call 9-1-1. For all other graffiti reports call 311.

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