Three juveniles who investigators say are responsible for more than $20,000 in damage have been arrested during a crackdown on graffiti vandalism by the Santa Barbara Police Department.
The first arrest occurred June 13, and involved a 17-year-old boy who was awaiting sentencing in a separate graffiti-vandalism case, Sgt. Riley Harwood said Saturday.
Officer Gary Siegel observed graffiti on the Anapamu Foot Bridge that he recognized as the work of the teen. Other graffiti in the area also matched the suspect’s style, Harwood said.
Confronted at his home, the teen eventually admitted the vandalism, as well as other graffiti acts in the downtown area, Harwood said. The case was forwarded to the District Attorney’s Office to file a charge against the suspect for felony vandalism, he said.
On June 20, Siegel and Officer Carl Kamin documented extensive graffiti vandalism to business and residential properties in the downtown area. Their investigation led them to a 15-year-old suspect on probation from a previous vandalism arrest. The suspect initially denied involvement, but confessed when shown video surveillance footage of him in the act, Harwood said.
The teen was booked at Santa Barbara Juvenile Hall for violation of probation and felony vandalism, Harwood said.
That same day, Officers Doug Klug and Daniel Garcia contacted three intoxicated youths who were in violation of the city’s 10 p.m. juvenile curfew. The three received citations for the curfew violation, and were searched; one of them, a 16-year old, was found to be in possession of two Sharpie markers and numerous U.S. Postal Service address mailing labels that had tagging crew monikers written on them, Harwood said.
Postal Service labels are especially popular for this activity because they are durable and difficult to remove, he said.
Further investigation found a connection to six documented vandalism incidents within the last seven months involving the monikers, Harwood said. The incidents took place on Kentia Avenue, Pilgrim Terrace Drive and West Mission Street.
On Wednesday, arrest and search warrants were served at a Westside residence, Harwood said, and a 15-year-old boy who was already on probation for vandalism was taken into custody.
Harwood said items corroborating the suspect’s involvement in vandalism were seized, including two bags of Sharpie markers and four scrapbooks with samples of his work.
The suspect was booked into Santa Barbara Juvenile Hall for felony vandalism.