Did you know that graffiti is not only a nuisance but also a crime? In Washington State it is considered Malicious Mischief in the 3rd degree when done without the property owners consent.
Graffiti has been used for centuries as an expression of art. The problem arises when it is vandalism. Gangs use their own unique form to “tag” or mark their territory or to serve as an indicator of gang-related activities. Others use it as a way to send other messages they have a strong belief in. Yet for others, it is basically for defacement purposes. The result is a nuisance and the best way to hinder future graffiti is to remove it immediately. If you try to ignore the graffiti it can be an invitation for the vandals to return and do it to other properties in the area. In some cities and counties you may face a fine if it is not removed within a reasonable time. If your property has been targeted the following are some tips to remove the graffiti:
- Report the graffiti to local law enforcement.
- Take a photo of the graffiti before removing it.
- If possible, use a pressure washer to remove dirt, mildew or other materials that would prevent new paint from adhering. At minimum, clean all surfaces to be painted.
- Use a matching paint or a neutral color like gray, white or beige. Paint it in a block or square, making sure that the paint covers all the way to the top and to the bottom. This method is less noticeable, preventing further vandalism.
Some cities and counties provide tools to help communities keep their property and communities graffiti free. Check with your local city council to see if there are volunteers in the area to assist or if there is a Graffiti Abatement Group close to you.